Long way to go for real girl power

18th June 2004 at 01:00
I was interested to read Kate Bennett's article "Poor example for girls", TES Cymru, June 11).

I was appointed head of a large comprehensive school in south Wales eight years ago. I was already a serving head with eight years' experience in an inner-London comprehensive.

I thought I would be a strong candidate for head of a girls' school.

Imagine my surprise to find, on the first day of interviews, that four out of the six shortlisted candidates were men. I am sad to say that little seems to have changed in my eight years in Wales. Conferences of heads continue to be a sea of "men in grey suits" and I believe there is yet to be a woman director of education appointed here.

It is not for lack of skills, experience and talent among women in management positions. My senior team has three very able women, and my business manager, who is not a teacher, is a woman. Last year one of my female assistant heads was promoted to a deputy headship in a Welsh-medium school.

As head of a girls' school, I have constantly encouraged pupils to aim high and to achieve.

However, if they plan to be teachers, and in particular in secondary schools, how confident can I be? Some serious work needs to be done in Wales to redress this damaging imbalance.

I shall be leaving my school at the end of term to work as an education consultant. My successor is a man.

Irene Mackie 25 Windsor Esplanade, Cardiff

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