To celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, students from Form 6 and 7 attended a series of seminars hosted by The Matthews Society. The Matthews Society was founded in 2013 by Oakham School Staff members Sarah Gomm, Megan Fairley and Emma Durston, as means of giving Form 7 girls the opportunity to discuss issues surrounding gender and equality in the 21st Century. Membership has been open to Form 7 boys since 2014, and each year it attracts around 60 members from both Form 7 Houses to its monthly meetings.
The evening began with relaxed drinks and cake, and then the seminars commenced with a short talk about Jane Matthews, the society’s namesake, who was the first female Head of Department at Oakham and went on to become its first female Deputy Head. Students then had the option of attending eight different seminars, which were delivered by members of staff and visiting OO Eleanor Maxim, ranging from subjects such as body image to teenage activists to women in the workplace.
Megan Fairley, Head of Religion and Philosophy and organiser of the event, tells us more:
“The aim of the Jane Matthews society is to empower girls at Oakham and prepare them for the outside world. This event is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate women whilst taking care to examine how raising women up in society will positively affect men, and to break down the stigma behind the word ‘feminism’. It is also my hope that young Oakhamians, male and female, will learn to recognise their different privileges and so, when they go out into the world, will leave the ladder down and help others to climb up beside them.”