I grew up in a very Mediterranean environment in which women were, to a certain extent, expected to cook, clean and take care of children…and that was pretty much it.

They were expected to have a maternal instinct, to be soft and to avoid leading a group of friends, because God forbid someone would call us bossy!

So, at age 18, the rebel in me decided to make the best decision I’ve ever made; to start working as an EFL teacher, for 2 reasons:

I loved the language
I wanted to be independent and start earning money as soon as possible
The international environment I worked in was brilliant and it gave me much more global perspective on the role of women in different societies.

Although different cultures had different beliefs, one thing was common: In most cases, the women I met had, at some point in their lives, been treated unfairly just because of their gender.

After years of working in language schools, I took on the Schools & Agents venture, and I was ready for my first industry event. Feeling extremely proud of myself and what I had achieved (as a woman), I was ready to walk into the huge halls, which everyone had prepared me for, and meet a lot of women in leading positions.

This natural assumption had stemmed from the fact that in the language schools where I worked, most of my colleagues had been women…so I automatically presumed that this was a predominantly female industry.

That’s where I had completely missed the point. In my roles at language schools, I was a teacher, and stereotypically, women are great teachers. Men would rarely take on such a role because they are brought up thinking they should be “more than that”.

The people who attended events were decision makers, and stereotypically, women are more emotional than rational, so it’s the men who get those positions.

Women are brought up thinking that they would never have the time to take care of the family if their job required them to be so responsible. I still remember stopping my business partner and sister, Bernice, and asking her to explain why there were so many men at these events.

After her explanation, the penny dropped and I realised that even in such a diverse and fantastic industry, female leaders were still lacking.

It is no surprise that when I heard the news about Lead5050 I was over the moon.

Finally, someone had taken a step towards female empowerment in our industry. We are extremely lucky to work in an environment in which race, religion, political opinion and status are not an issue. So, it is only fair that gender stops being an issue too.

I firmly believe that men in leading positions need to be more accepting of female leaders and women need to push each other to not settle.

Education is the most valuable thing anyone could ever have and we are all lucky enough to have a say in this industry.

We are the people who provide educational services to the whole world and we are the ones who should be leading by example.

If we show students that women can lead and be driven by goals, rather than emotions, and that men can be teachers without feeling degraded because of stereotypes, then we have a very big chance of influencing the futures of the next generations positively.

And that, my friends, is something we should truly take pride in!