Fairness by Mrs. Kahol

Posted on: 02/02/2024


Our school value over the past couple of weeks has been Fairness and we have had several opportunities in assemblies and around the school to discuss and see fairness in action and reflect on how we perceive fairness.

Many of you may know that I am an avid supporter of an organisation called WomenED and one of the key principles associated with this organisation is ‘fairness’.  See the link here on the four WomenEd Campaigns.

I have had many conversations with parents regarding equality and fairness and I am aware that many of you are active proponents of this in your work places and home lives. I am delighted to share this blog written by Mrs. Kahol, a parent who works at GSK. It is written with the pupils as an audience but so relevant for us all. 

Ms Drummond


Dear Pupils,

As you start the new year, I wanted to discuss the important topic of equality with you.

Did you know that only around 100 years ago, women weren’t allowed to get a proper education? You might be surprised to know that the first college which allowed women to get into higher studies was the University of London, and that the first  women ever to receive degrees got them in 1878. Education, which is now a basic right for all, wasn’t granted to girls in this country just one hundred years ago. 

Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, these issues still exist. While the right to vote for women arrived in the early 1900s in the UK as a result of the suffragette movement, true equality for women is far from achieved, both in the UK and globally. Let me give you an example to explain more clearly. Two girls and two boys participate in an activity and receive the same score. Should they receive the same award for it – say two chocolates each? How would you feel if the boys were given three chocolates each and the girls were given only two? Would that feel fair? This idea of rewarding men and women differently for doing the same job is called Gender Pay Discrimination and it has been illegal in the UK for 45 years. But it still exists in some other parts of the world. 

However if, in the above scenario, girls were asked to complete five more tasks in parallel to the tasks they have been given, they would of course take longer hours to complete the tasks, get more exhausted and likely leave the initial two tasks to the boys. This would lead to the boys getting all the chocolates. This is what is known as the Gender Pay Gap: because women still do more of the unpaid work of a family (e.g. childcare and housework) than men do, they have less time for paid work. The causes of the Gender Pay Gap are complex and overlapping. While some women may choose to work less and earn less, others may be forced into this situation and may not be happy.

According to the Women in Work Index 2021, at the rate the Gender Pay Gap is currently closing, it will take more than 50 years to reach gender pay parity. For every 100 men in the workforce, 69 women are in the workforce in the UK. That number is much lower for developing nations. Currently in the top 500 companies of the world (Fortune 500) only 9% of the CEOs are women. This equates to fewer role models for women which may lead women to have lower aspirations overall for their careers, a phenomenon called The Glass Ceiling.

Inequality like this between men and women at work may have a negative impact not only on women but on men too. It boxes men and women in to assume that they want to take on gender roles as they were defined centuries ago, with women staying at home and men outside. Things have changed in the last few centuries. Both men and women can work now if they want to, they can take care of a family together and support each other. Financial freedom is no longer limited by gender.

Boys and girls, you all have the opportunity to change this world. Each one of you can help in continuing to close this gap. It is important that the pupils of St. Helen’s College study hard and have equal opportunities to make names for themselves in fields of their choice in the future. Don’t let stereotypes box you into gender roles. You are the future and a good education from an esteemed school such as St. Helen’s College puts you in a great position to make your dreams come true. The world needs role models like you, prepared to call out any discrimination you see around you.

Mrs. Kahol