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The Gold Coast Schoolyard: A Crossroads of Gender Equity

The Gold Coast Schoolyard: A Crossroads of Gender Equity

Australia has made significant progress with respect to gender equity over the last century; however, there remains much more work to be done, especially during the formative early childhood and schooling years. Schools play a major role in determining what is considered 'natural' or 'normal' for different bodies and people, and they communicate these beliefs through diverse policies and practices.

This imperative led the Barcley Team to embark on the journey of exploring the state of gender equity in education. "The Gold Coast Schoolyard: A Crossroads of Gender Equity" is a pioneering study examining how school websites and online materials reflect their level of commitment to gender equity. It seeks to quantify the comparative degree to which schools champion equity, allowing children to freely express themselves, or whether they cling to outdated norms and gender stereotypes.

We analysed more than 100 schools’ websites, both governmental and non- governmental, covering the ABS SA4 Gold Coast delimitation across five critical dimensions: mental health support, uniform and appearance policies, operational practices, promotion and access in activities, and overall school inclusivity.

The study underscores notable successes and significant areas for improvement. Positively, 90% of schools actively encourage parental involvement without gender bias, and 80% mention respectful relationships in their materials. In the realm of uniform and appearance, 83% of schools have a unified sports uniform policy, which can support gender equity. Conversely, only 42% of schools have leadership teams reflecting gender balance, and a scant 31% embed concepts of equity or inclusion in their mission or values statements. Inclusivity language acknowledging non-binary and transgender students is present in only 13% of school communications. Moreover, a mere 24% of schools visibly recognise or celebrate diversity and inclusion events, implying such celebrations are not yet commonplace in educational settings.

The Gold Coast Schoolyard: A Crossroads of Gender Equity

A pronounced disparity arose between government and non-government schools' approaches to gender equity, with government schools consistently performing better across mental health support, activities, and uniform policies. Private schools, in contrast, tend to follow a more traditional script and rank lower across all studied areas.

Catholic schools on the other hand, have surprisingly outdone other religiously affiliated schools, indicating that faith-based education can align with progressive gender equity practices.

Our research indicates a broad spectrum of policy equity within Gold Coast schools, with ample room for improvement. Schools now have the opportunity, with a robust equity framework, to review their online presence and policies to enhance inclusion.

About The Author

Barcley Consulting is a boutique management consulting firm dedicated to delivering high-value strategic advice to organisations and assisting them in creating meaningful change. Specialising in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Barcley Consulting empowers organisations by aligning leadership with the organisation’s unique case for diversity. They have developed proprietary tools to measure inclusion and equity, providing insights into the diverse experiences across employee groups. This facilitates action at all levels, empowering individuals to contribute meaningfully and fostering a workplace culture where every voice is heard and valued


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