This chapter discusses what #WomenEd has learned from research and women’s lived experiences regarding what supports women leaders and what we must improve to achieve gender equity in leadership roles. #WomenEd is a global movement (with 38,700 followers on Twitter at time of writing) structured around 34 teams of 150+ network leaders in 20 countries.

There are substantial obstacles faced by female leaders in the education sector where the number of male leaders is greater and disproportional to their percentage across education systems globally. I will analyse how challenges for women leaders are being addressed through a grassroots movement that is enacting change. Female empowerment is achieved through a vibrant social media base, regular sharing of up to date research, online dialogue and virtual events, and Saturday and after work events which are supportive and challenging. Our anecdotal evidence supports the research and demonstrates the significant impact of gender on promotion and retention of female teachers, the large gender pay gap, and the lack of flexible working opportunities, particularly in schools.

Building on such evidence, to tackle these issues we learned women respond to role models, which highlights the importance of women telling stories both of success and failure. They value a focus on addressing personal barriers such as imposter syndrome, perfectionism, the need to please, the fear of negotiation and failure. We also highlight organisational and systemic barriers including unconscious bias and discrimination, and the lack of professional development offered by employers for female educators. We explore why leaders who are women are treated inequitably and are interested in the intersectional impact of class, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, and sexuality.

I will also share our learning on the changes needed to achieve gender equity and the impact #WomenEd is having globally in changing education for the better.