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Research in Education at the University of Wolverhampton

Diverse Leadership – a force for good, to address social injustices

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Day 4 of the leadership conference started off with Vivienne Porritt, co-founder of WomenEd. Vivienne reflected on the importance of developing women as leaders within the education community. She highlighted that even though women make up 75% of the workforce in teaching, this percentage is not reflected in the leadership structures of school. Vivienne advocated that it is important for both women and men to work together to move towards a more gender balanced workforce (Francke, 2019). Vivienne, pointed out that it is important to continue to encourage open conversations about how we can tap into the talents of women more. It was pointed out that flexible working arrangements will make a profound difference in how women will be able to continue to contribute, and balance their wide range of commitments. Vivienne highlighted the importance of continuing to develop a sector wide understanding of how women can be a force for good, and how they can make a difference on all levels of leadership, as illustrated in WomenEd’s two books, 10% Braver and Being 10% Braver (Porritt and Featherstone, 2019 and Featherstone and Porritt, 2020). 

Vivienne’s keynote was followed by Dr Sean Starr’s presentation of his research on creative leadership. Sean shared, how he used creative research methods with school leaders to gain a better understanding of how they view their roles, and how they view the education landscape they find themselves in. Sean argued that creative leaders, who are able to take a broader and more strategic view on how to address challenges, have more agency, and find solutions that are often able to be more inclusive and enable other to grow and flourish in a diverse education landscape. Developing the ability to think more creatively, and having a broader lens, enables greater collaboration. 

Sean’s presentation was followed by Dr John Macklin’s exploration of Neurodiverse leaders. John explained how neurodiverse leaders often explore problems via a ‘network thinking’ approach opposed to a more linear approach, which aligns with the reflections shared by Sean in relation to creative leadership approaches. John outlined how neurodiverse leaders often have different talents they can draw on such as creative thinking, and creative problem-solving approaches. It is often best to draw on the neurodiverse leader’s strengths such as creativity, and it was advised that careful consideration needs to be made around information overload and timetabling. Pairing the neurodiverse leader up with like-minded colleagues, where they can draw on their strengths, and are supported by these colleagues, who have other strengths, such as operational approaches to implement the new creative ideas often work best. Adopting a collaborative professional, approach with neurodiverse leaders, is key to give leaders agency and lead with confidence (Hargreaves and O’Connor, 2018). John provided a unique insight into how neurodiverse leaders, can impact in a powerful way on strategic leadership practices within organisations. 

The conference was attended by 118 delegates over the 4 days, and they were taken on a wide range of leadership journeys outlining how inclusive leadership and diverse leadership, can address social injustices, to provide learners life changes. 

References: 

Francke, A. (2019), Create A Gender -balance Workplace. UK: Penguin.

Featherstone, K. and Porritt, V. (2020), Being 10% Braver. UK: Sage. 

Hargreaves, A. and O’Connor, M. (2018). Collaborative Professionalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Porritt, V. and Featherstone, K. (2019), 10% Braver: Inspiring Women to lead Education. UK: Sage.

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