If you ever meet Hannah, you will be energised and determined to change the world immediately! You will be torn between 2 minds, stay a bit longer so you can keep listening to her cool ideas or run home and start implementing them! When we met I felt shaken by an electric human power and couldn't help but admire her relentless and effective way to start introducing actual changes in terms of diversity in education. Aren't kids our biggest assets to change the world after all?
I am so glad that she spared some time from her many projects to be interviewed and gave us her 2 cents about feminism and her journey!
Who is Hannah Wilson, the woman determined to change the world through ethical leadership?
I am a Former Headteacher, I tweet and blog as Ethical Leader, I am the Co-Founder of #WomenEd, the Founder of #DiverseEd and LeaninGirlsUk. I am also the Co-Host of the #FastForwardDiversityInclusion webcast. I left my role as an educational leader in the system last summer, after a year working in a university I decided to go independent and I am now a Leadership Development consultant, coach and facilitator.
...I see a pattern here...why women in education and leadership are the answer in your opinion?
Education is a female-heavy profession and we have a glass ceiling for women progressing to Headship and beyond, moreover, we have a leaky pipeline with women who have children or who are seeking flexible working leaving the system. For the last 5 years, I have been involved in a lot of gender equality activity to empower women, however, as role models for the next generation we need to consider what we can do differently in the system to empower and inspire girls to be the women in leadership of the future.
What is the biggest impact of what you do?
I love supporting women in finding their potential and empowering them to push out of their comfort zones. I really enjoy facilitating the #IamRemarkable workshops through LeanInOrg for the Google Diversity and Inclusion initiative to debunk and demystify the myths around self-promotion. As a result, I am designing and delivering a series of Leadership Masterclasses with a focus on Personal Leadership Development.
This year my biggest impact has been flipping our 4th Diverse Educators event into a virtual event which had 12,000 viewers in 24 hours! You can see the recording on Youtube here
What is the biggest ambition, the big dream?
My current big ambition is to launch the Diverse Educators website in September to raise the profile of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in schools to enable all educators to create a school-wide strategy to challenge the systemic, structural and societal barriers that anyone with protected characteristic faces. I am also co-planning a proposal for a TEDxWoman event with a friend for Autumn 2020 to reflect on the experiences of women during Covid-19 and the impact of the lockdown on the gender equality movement.
What is Feminism for you?
I believer in gender equality and social equity. It is simple. It is about everyone being aware of the inequalities and us all being part of the solution. Feminism is personal but it is also political and social. I am passionate it is a collective responsibility to address the issues in every aspect of society that marginalises and diminishes individuals.
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
Mansplaining really winds me up. I see it all the time on social media – me reframing what a woman has written to tell them what they meant! I also get really annoyed by Manels, especially when they are about issues affecting women!
Do you remember when you started identifying as a Feminist and why?
When I was studying for my A-Level in English Literature I had a brilliant lecturer who inspired us to be political. I then went to read Post-Colonial Literature at university and a male lecturer in my first year provoked us all to be social activists. I have always been strong-minded and driven by a sense of justice and my moral code, these two educators gave me the language and the critical theory to explain myself.
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
Maya Angelou is the writer who unlocked something in me. Her beautiful use of language, her honesty and her transparency, but ultimately her strength and her wisdom really inspired me. From her autobiographies I went on to read a lot of black, female literature which has shaped my thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion. It has also made me reflect a lot on my privilege as a white woman. Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Jacinda Ardern are all inspiring.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
I have two:
- “When they go low, we go high” by Michelle Obama:
- “I want every little girl who is told she is bossy to be told she has leadership skills” by Sheryl Sandberg
I have gone high when unethical leaders have gone low and I was a child who was told she was bossy. A friend recently told me that the things we were scolded for as a child are our superpowers as an adult. My other thing was asking too many ‘why?’ questions – as an adult, I am a curious person and a leader who disrupts!
What is your proud feminist victory?
My individual victory is that I am a negotiator and I have negotiated my salary and my package at every career step. My collective victory is being the founding member of #WomenEd a grassroots gender equality community for women in education which is global and has a reach of 35,000! I went to Banff to launch #WomenEd Canada a few years ago at a conference for 2,500!
What is your feminist recommendation?
- Book:Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
- TV show:The L-Word and Killing Eve.
- Documentaries: Becoming and Homecoming.
- Film:Thelma and Louise and Erin Brokovich.
What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
In the #WomenEd our call to action is to be 10% braver which is about stepping out of our comfort zones and the marginal gains theory of incremental improvement. My call to action is for everyone to be the best version of our authentic selves. We all need to lean in, sit at the table, speak at the table and take opportunities. We all need to shine the light on each other, in sisterhood, but we also need to shine the light on ourselves. We all need to smash those glass and those concrete ceilings, but then we need to take others with us.