Review by Emma Cate Stokes

Key stage one phase lead, East Sussex

4 Feb 2024, 5:00

Book

Smashing glass ceilings: Empowering women in education

By Kate Jones

Publisher

Routledge

ISBN 10

1032461969

Published

12 Dec 2023

Smashing Glass Ceilings isn’t the first book by Jones I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. Still, it diverges from her usual narrative style, which is typically more focused on educational research and pedagogy.  Here, she extends a heartfelt tribute to the female education community, a group she has both supported and drawn support from over the years.

The book is a mosaic of Jones’ personal achievements interwoven with anecdotes, pragmatic tips and enlightening spotlights on distinguished teachers. But the real gems are her interviews with successful women in various education sectors. Moving beyond the conventional focus on teaching roles to showcase women from all facets of education from leadership to curriculum design to consultancy, they are full of invaluable insights and highlight that the journey in education is not monolithic.

Jones’ interviews with women in non-teaching roles are particularly revealing. They offer a window into how one can impact the educational landscape beyond the classroom. These narratives underscore that achieving a headship, while a noble goal, is not the sole path to breaking through educational glass ceilings. These women’s stories serve as a testament to the fact that the educational sector offers many opportunities for those willing to venture beyond traditional roles.

The broad effect is not just informative but deeply empowering. It encourages readers to explore and embrace paths that align with their skills, passions and visions for change. As a result, Smashing Glass Ceilings becomes more than a compilation of success stories; it is a reminder that every role, whether in the forefront or behind the scenes, is instrumental in shaping educational experiences and breaking down barriers. In doing so, it inspires and challenges us to rethink and expand our understanding of what it means to be a woman in education today.

One of the book’s strengths lies in its practicality. Jones doesn’t just inspire; she equips her readers with tangible tools and strategies to navigate the often tumultuous waters of educational careers. From leveraging social media for professional growth to fostering meaningful connections in the industry, her advice is both actionable and insightful.

Jones doesn’t just inspire; she equips her readers with tangible tools

Jones does an excellent job covering a broad spectrum of topics, but it’s important to acknowledge that some of the advice might feel a bit basic for some. For instance, the sections on using social media effectively or navigating Zoom meetings were quite familiar. Many of us, especially in the digital age, have already honed these skills.

However, it’s precisely this foundational approach that amplifies the value of the book for a broader audience. These elements offer a clear, step-by-step guide for women just embarking on their next steps. Jones breaks down even seemingly simple tasks into manageable parts, which can be incredibly useful for those less familiar with these tools.

This fundamental level of guidance is, in many ways, the brilliance of Jones’ work. It ensures that Smashing Glass Ceilings is a comprehensive 101 on kickstarting the next stage in your career, offering valuable insights into basics that are often overlooked in more advanced texts.

While seasoned professionals might skim over these more basic sections, they lay the groundwork for the more complex concepts discussed later – a  thoughtful structure that makes the book a versatile resource for a wide range of readers.

Jones’s writing style is inviting, almost as if she’s having a one-on-one with you. This approach makes the book immediately accessible and the reading experience enjoyable. Her tone is consistently encouraging, yet doesn’t shy away from the challenges and setbacks she and others have faced, an honesty that only adds to the book’s authenticity.

Smashing Glass Ceilings also shines in its celebration of achievements both big and small. Jones understands the importance of recognising and valuing every step forward, and not only encourages us to pursue our dreams but to pause and appreciate the milestones along the way.

All in all, this book is a powerful message of hope and solidarity. Its call for women to support each other is at once timely and timeless, and its vision of a more inclusive and equitable sector is not only inspiring but, as it shows, ultimately  achievable.

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