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Int’l ed mentor group to “raise the profile of women”

A membership association striving to elevate the professional lives of women working in all areas of international education has been launched.


"We women in positions of leadership have a moral imperative to support others"

Created by three women in the UK and German study travel sectors, Lead 5050’s mission is “to create an industry where there are as many women in positions of power as men” and to “raise the profile of women in the industry, and to facilitate their entry into leadership positions”.

The group aims to organise networking and professional development events for women working in both study travel and international higher education, connect members with positive female mentors and increase the profile of women achievers through the Women in International Education Business awards.

The organisation was founded by Leanne Linacre, founder of LILA* Liverpool, Ella Tyler owner of Mountlands Language School in the UK and Maria Castro, managing director of Linguland in Germany.

“We want to highlight the accomplishments that women in our industry have achieved, and to inspire others to do the same”

“People cannot be what they cannot see, so we want to highlight the accomplishments that women in our industry have achieved, and to inspire others to do the same,” said co-founder Leanne Linacre.

“There are so many strong, intelligent women in the industry – a mentoring programme dedicated to passing this knowledge on and helping women lean in is long overdue.”

The organisation has invited key female influencers to become the ‘First50’ who will serve as role models to its all-female membership.

Early backers include Sarah Cooper, CEO of English UK; Santuza Paolucci Bicalho, director CVC Brasil; Yukari Naktasuji, director Gio Club, Japan; Alexandra Borges de Sousa, managing director Cial Centro de Linguas, Portugal; and Sinem Kizrak Bayraktutan, regional manager ATLAS Private Educational Consulting, Turkey.

The PIE News co-founders Jane Gilham and Amy Baker have also been named ‘First50’ women.

“International education is a pretty female-heavy industry, but at the senior level, that diversity tails off, so I think any sort of collegiality among female leaders can only inspire more women to strive further and this will ultimately help strengthen the industry at large,” commented Baker.

Sarah Cooper meanwhile said the group is an opportunity “to develop the women leaders of the future”.

“I think we women in positions of leadership have a moral imperative to support others,” she added.

And Bicalho expressed her support for the initiative saying: “I believe that the creation of a platform where like-minded people discuss openly the hard issues related to being a woman in the workplace is a positive way to voice problems and to seed developments.’’

The first networking event bringing together the First50 mentors and the group’s membership will be held in London on September 1.

A group of male stakeholders have also been invited to be ‘5050 Champions’ promoting gender equality and supporting the mission of the organisation. Mitch Gordon, CEO & co-founder of Go Overseas and Andrew Mangion, chairman of EC as well as Ilan Cohen and Jon Kolber, executive directors of ILAC in Canada, are among the male backers.

“Mentoring young women to be successful should always make us proud,” commented Kolber.

“My hope is Lead5050 will help me become a better mentor and father to my two young daughters.  A women’s world is our future and I want to help my daughters succeed.”

Individual and corporate memberships will be open to all women who are involved in international education globally from February. Fees will be discounted for the first year.

In March, nominations will open for the 15 categories of the Lead5050 Women In International Education Business Awards. They include Inspirational Woman of the Year, Employer of the Year (agency, school and supplier categories) and a Lifetime Achievement award.

The awards will be announced at a ceremony in Berlin on October 28.

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