Self help for women

28th October 1994 at 00:00
Women Managing, "Empowering Yourself as a Manager"; "Empowerment Within the Organisation". By Christine Archer and Rosemary Lucas, Pounds 40 each. Framework Press, Parkfield, Greaves Road, Lancaster LA1 4TZ.

Women into management"; "women in management"; "women as managers". What's in a phrase, the authors of Women Managing ask, and then go on to supply the worksheets to respond.

In their double pack of development materials for women in schools and colleges, Christine Archer and Rosemary Lucas address two topics: "Empowering Yourself as a Manager" (Pack 1), and "Empowerment Within the Organisation" (Pack 2). The materials are strongly practical in their nature, and are intended to draw on the direct experiences of women working in schools and colleges.

The first pack acknowledges that the education sector has proved itself to be no more capable of advancing women's management opportunities than any other sector of employment. This inequality spans schools, colleges and local education authorities, and is most severe for women from minority ethnic groups.

Given this unacceptable situation, the question inevitably arises: how and to what extent might these materials assist in improving the position?

During the last decade, much of the learning material produced to help women develop professionally has been valuable in helping them to cope with their experience of actual and perceived unfairness. These packs bring together some of the best of these materials.

However, since the main causes of women's inequality at work lie outside the individual woman, school or college, the resources need to be used alongside other materials which take an overview, appraising the education sector in relation to women's management development opportunities.

Any rapidly-changing sector presents new limitations and new opportunities. These require thorough examination so that old inequalities are not projected on to the future. New skills should then emerge which may contrast with those traditionally associated with women, and which women should ensure they take up as quickly as possible.

Many of these skills are to do with measurement, and judgements based on measurement, which women are particularly capable of applying creatively to important educational purposes.

For many able, committed women, the insights offered by first-class management development materials have sadly become tools for managing personal disappointment and frustration. Though this need exists and always will, it could be much reduced if these packs were used alongside materials from the cutting edge of school and college management today.

Let us hope, then, that Framework Press will be encouraged to add a third and even more specifically-focused pack.

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