Why ‘The Fair List’?
A personal story
When I was lucky enough, back in the nineteen eighties, to be invited onto speaker panels and to give plenary and keynote speeches at UK events for EFL/ESOL teachers, I often found myself to be the only woman on the podium on the day. I noticed and minded, but I had the feeling, back then, that things were improving. Pretty soon, I thought, I would have women companions up there with me. So I ploughed on over the years, just trying to make my contributions interesting and relevant to the field.
In 2012 I was lucky enough to be invited to share my thoughts publicly as a plenary speaker on a number of occasions in the UK. And, several times again, I found myself, as a woman speaker, in a very small minority-sometimes a minority of one. ‘Hang on!’ I thought to myself. ‘It’s 2012. The profession is stuffed full of women teachers. There are, I think, more women academic directors than there used to be. Lots of people who select speakers for conferences are women. So, how come, when it comes to plenary or keynote speakers in the UK, I am still looking around for women chums to join me up on the podium?’
I sent an exploratory email around to some colleagues explaining how I felt and why I thought it important to have a good gender balance of presenters at UK, ELT events. I got a lot of supportive messages back. So then I decided to do something about it.
Why the UK only?
In my view, people in the UK, especially those in government, have meddled quite enough in other people’s countries. I was born and bred in the UK. This is where I have the right to vote. I received my initial EFL teacher training in the UK and have worked here for many years. So I feel I have the right to speak here. If you were born and bred in another country and feel you would like to start up a similar award there, please do get in touch.
Why only public speakers?
There are all kinds of unfairness in the world. And, in terms of gender balance in UK ELT, there are things to discuss, such as, numbers of women in management teams, numbers in university departments, equal pay. But being just one person, I am working on something I know about and have personal experience of. If you can tackle another related issue, I will be happy and applaud you!