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Captains slay stereotypes at Australia’s largest girls-only student leadership event


February 26, 2020

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Penrhos College

During the summer holidays, two Year 12 representatives from our 2020 Student Council were invited to attend the Student Leadership Conference, hosted by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia.

Mignon du Plessis and Bianca Masters, our School Captain and Treasurer, travelled to the University of Sydney 14-17 January 2020 to take part in the conference. In its 22nd year, 179 young leaders from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Zimbabwe and USA attended this much anticipated four-day event.

The purpose of sending Penrhos students to the conference is to encourage young women to step forward and challenge the status quo – a challenge that is more important than ever, with Australia ranking #44 out of 153 countries in the 2020 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report1 (down five places from the 2018 index).

“The conference enhances the advantages that girls in single-sex schools already have in the leadership stakes. Girls hold every leadership position in girls’ schools — from captain of the hockey and debating teams to president of the science and coding clubs. This diversity of opportunity and lack of gender stereotyping gives them the confidence and experience to lead, compete and take risks; ultimately, to tackle any career or leadership role they may choose,” said Loren Bridge, Alliance Executive Officer.

Mignon and Bianca certainly embraced the opportunities presented by the conference. “At Penrhos, we are committed to the benefits of a single-sex education, through which our girls are encouraged and inspired to strive for the highest and achieve their personal best. Research shows that girls benefit from single-sex environments where there are no expectations that they should fulfil gender stereotypes in the subjects they study, the activities they participate in, or the careers they pursue,” said Principal Meg Melville. “We are very proud of Mignon and Bianca, both of whom have made the very most of this challenge and experience as young leaders.”



2020 Treasurer, Bianca Masters, says “we gained valuable leadership experience and advice that we will implement into our own community as Student Council members. We were constantly encouraged to branch out of our comfort zone and build connections with like-minded individuals from all over Australia.”

The young women attending the conference took part in a powerful set of workshops run by Harvard Crimson Global Programs, to help ambitious students advance as leaders, entrepreneurs and active citizens.

“Coming out of such an intense conference feeling empowered, energised and ready for the next chapter in my life is the purest reflection of the gargantuan efforts of the mentors running the program, and the inestimable summary of the experiences I had at the conference,” said School Captain Mignon du Plessis.

You can learn more about the benefits of single sex education here https://www.agsa.org.au/

REF: Mind the 100 Year Gap, World Economic Forum. Retrieved from: https://www.weforum.org/reports/gender-gap-2020-report-100-years-pay-equality


Penrhos College is an independent, all-girls school in Perth. Penrhos’ extensive offering starts in the Early Learning Centre, through to Junior and Secondary School. Penrhos is a day and boarding school for girls located in Como, South Perth WA.