English headmistress says the secret to success is acting, working like a woman not a man

While educators in America are struggling to figure out what a woman is, a leading headmistress in England is encouraging people to tap into their feminine “soft power” traits — traditionally seen as empathy, creativity, and a willingness to collaborate — to maximize their success in work and in life.

Heather Hanbury is the head of the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, and she serves as president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), and she’s tired of the notion that women must “lean in” to the way men conduct business if they wish to advance in their careers.

In a speech at GSA’s annual conference, Hanbury stressed the need to instill more traditionally feminine characteristics in all students, regardless of their sex, according to the Daily Mail, which previewed the headmistress’s speech ahead of the event.

“It’s absolutely time to finally acknowledge working like girls and women is a great way to work and live,” she will reportedly say. “I’ve had enough of being told otherwise. No one should feel they have to ‘be like a man’ to succeed in life.”


In the speech to more than 150 head teachers, Hanbury describes all-girls schools as “incubators of new and better ways of thinking and being.”

“This influence isn’t just about girls and young women but about the huge value that young women offer and create in the world through the way that they work and spend their time in it,” she is expected to say.

The speech comes on the heels of a study by Dr. Nikki Shure and Dr. Anna Adamecz-Volgyi of London’s Global University (UCL) that found men have higher self-esteem, which contributes to their greater success in the workplace.

“Separately, a recent report by Cranfield University and EY found 91 per cent of the 413 women on FTSE 100 boards are in advisory non-executive director roles, with just nine chief executives,” the Daily Mail reports. “It led to accusations that top firms have made an ‘appalling’ lack of progress in promoting women to executive roles, instead putting them in ‘box-ticking’ positions to boost equality figures.”

But according to Hanbury, those same traits traditionally ascribed to men often “end up in burnout.”

“We all need to unleash our feminine side – it’s proven this is pivotal for society to become truly great,” she will tell the conference, according to School Management Plus. “Much has been made of The Female Leadership advantage and quite rightly. The benefits of more women and girls achieving their ambitions are remarkable and the effects are real.”

The women who graduate from girls’ schools, she argues, are, “Dextrous and empathetic human beings who will disrupt the outmoded myopic, competitively driven alpha style culture that so often ends up in burnout.”

Melissa Fine


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