On the annual International Women's Day, Deputy Principal of Oaklands College Harpreet Nagra sits down to discuss this year's theme; #BalanceforBetter.
Harpreet, who has vast experience in further education, previously worked as an ESOL and English teacher with a number of colleges before moving into a quality role in Central Bedfordshire College. After that, Harpreet joined Ofsted and became a Her Majesty’s Inspector for 3 years. She joined Oaklands College in October 2018 and still works as a part-time Ofsted Inspector.
From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects to see gender-balance, noticing its absence and celebrating its presence.
Q: With an increasing number of women occupying Senior Leadership roles around the college, how important do you feel it is to ensure we contribute to a better, balanced and fairer working world?
A: It shouldn't even be an issue, regardless of the workplace, Senior Leadership roles should be based on skills and abilities rather than gender, class and ethnicity, it is important that we champion this as a college and create a balanced working and learning environment.
Q: What does this year's International Women's Day slogan #BalanceforBetter mean to you in the workplace?
A: The #BalanceforBetter slogan gives Oaklands College the opportunity to fully focus on what our students need, in line with our college values and mission. Above all, balance should be achieved all year round, celebrating and promoting female students and staff in non-female stereotypical roles. If those decisions are based on gender then we need to break down those barriers and gender stereotypes.
Q: As an inspirational senior figure at Oaklands College, what is the most important message or piece of advice you want to send out to our female students and/or staff members?
A: Do not allow yourself to become confined to the stereotypes of your gender, focus on being the best you can possibly be and you will not only inspire yourself, but colleagues and fellow students around you.
Q: What motivates you most about your role at Oaklands College?
A: The biggest motivational driving force for me is the students achieving their goals and aspirations, being able to contribute to their success and personal development is what inspires me every day.
Q: Innovation is a key value that is championed by the college, how important do you feel it is that the college embraces this year's #BalanceforBetter theme?
A: A gender balanced world enables all members of Oaklands College to play an integral part to ensure all students have the best experience and achieve.
My advice to students would be to focus on your primary goal, rather than those who are driving it. If you take it seriously
Q: Finally, which other women inspire you most and why?
A: For me, all women who have overcome adversity and are able to fulfil their dreams and career ambitions are who inspire me the most. I think of my mum, past and present female colleagues throughout my career, our Principal Zoe Hancock and all of our students.
As Harpreet touched upon, the magic of International Women’s Day is that it does not stop on the day, meaning we as a college can continue to be inspired and take action to help create a better, balanced environment all year around!