Girls strive to smash the glass ceiling at Australia’s largest girls-only student leadership event

The Educator / 14 January 2020

As published in The Educator

This week, 179 girls from 81 girls’ schools will strive to smash the glass ceiling at Australia’s largest girls-only student leadership event.

The girls will get the ultimate leadership boost at the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia’s (AGSA) Student Leadership Conference, held at The Women’s College, University of Sydney from 14-18 January.

Students will travel from across Australia and New Zealand and as far afield as Zimbabwe, the Philippines and the United States to take part in the much-anticipated four-day event, which is the first of its kind in Australia.

Now in its 22nd year, the conference aims to equip young women to step forward and challenge the status quo, a challenge that is more important than ever with Australia ranking #44 out of 153 countries in the 2020 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, down five places from the 2018 index.

This year students will, for the first time, take part in a powerful set of workshops run by Harvard Crimson Global Programs who aim to help ambitious students advance as leaders, entrepreneurs, and active citizens.

The workshops will cover how to approach grey-area decisions, effective risk-taking and idea generation.

AGSA’s executive officer Loren Bridge said the program was designed to support girls in becoming confident and effective leaders during their final year of school.

“The conference enhances the advantage that girls in single-sex schools already have in the leadership stakes,” Bridge said.

“Girls hold every leadership position in girls’ schools — from captain of the hockey and debating teams to president of the science and coding clubs.”

Bridge said this “diversity of opportunity” and lack of gender stereotyping “gives them the confidence and experience to lead, compete and take risks, and ultimately tackle any career or leadership role they may choose”.

“We know there are persistent barriers to closing the gender gap in pay and position, and we hope we can give girls the motivation, self-belief and resilience to disrupt gender bias and breakdown the barriers to the c-suite,” she said.