Boys Asked to Consider Mansplaining, Microaggressions and Unconscious Bias as IWD 2024 is Marked
Boys' Division Pastoral

Head of Boys’ Division Mr Nic Ford and Head of German Ms Roddy led a whole school assembly marking International Women’s Day at Bolton School Boys’ Division.

Pupils learnt that the annual celebration – always on 8 March – began in 1911 after female textile workers in New York had protested a few years earlier demanding better pay, shorter hours and voting rights. Ms Roddy explained that the day inspires us to aim for a world free of bias and where there is gender equity. Pupils learnt how countries around the world celebrate the day in different ways with some declaring a national holiday.

Mr Ford relayed two infamous stories of mansplaining, the habit some men have of explaining something in a condescending and overconfident way to a woman. He cited the short viral film clip of Georgia Ball, a professional golfer who was adapting her swing, being told she was doing it wrong by a man and another incident of a doctor at a conference being advised to read a paper by Dr Stanton et al when she was in fact Dr Stanton!

Ms Roddy spoke about acts of microaggression. She cited an example of this being when people from ethnic minorities are continuously asked where they are really from. She told how some of her female teaching friends had experienced mansplaining and microaggressions: Ms Jagger, a Maths teacher, was asked if she knew the difference between mean and median and Miss Marsh had the payment plan for her new car laboriously explained to her. Ms Roddy told how she herself, an experienced climber, was given unsolicited advice when climbing by a number of army recruits who were abseiling nearby. Microaggressions, she said, are exhausting. She concluded by telling the audience that while we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality, men and boys can help to speed up the process and improve society. It is important, she said, that we all listen and learn and that we check our unconscious biases – the simple advice was if in doubt, don’t say it!

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