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Blog - Teaching Girls to Banter, Blag and Wing it?

Teaching Girls to Banter, Blag and Wing it?

Posted by Tracy Powley 12/09/18

We should teach girls to banter, blag and wing it…. According to Ms Elphinstone who is head of Francis Holland Girls School, in West London. 

Really?? How are we ever going to change workplace cultures when girls (and boys) are being fed this kind of destructive message … 

It is such a retrograde step to suggest we put our energy into changing girls to cope with the “male-dominated professions, such as law, politics, banking and finance,” rather than suggesting workplaces should change to accommodate the strengths that all employees can bring  - including the “sensitive“ girls she talks about.

Surely we should be celebrating and capitalising on the strengths that (more “sensitive”) girls may have, the behaviours often more associated with women; the ability to listen carefully and fully, to empathise, to pick up on emotional states….rather than asking them to cultivate the behaviours associated with masculinity - the banter and blagging.

If we feel the mission of schools is to get girls to “toughen up” in order to deal with workplaces where they will get “far worse than teasing”, then there is still something fundamentally wrong with our approach and we are failing our children.

There is also a huge assumption here that boys are all perfectly at home with “pushing each other around,” making fun of each other and calling each other nicknames. Perhaps Ms Elphinstone has never been on the receiving end of a being called a nickname she finds deeply uncomfortable or been made to be the butt of a joke that goes on and on. It is not a nice place to be….when you are 6 years old in the school playground or 36 years old in a workplace full of “one-upmanship”

Let’s build girls’ confidence and self-belief - let’s absolutely help them to know they can take risks and be braver, but let’s not try and turn them into men and perpetuate the flawed workplace cultures that currently exist in so many places. 

If you are in any doubt about the negative effects banter can have in workplaces take a look at our survey  

Or how humour and jokes that cross the line can take their toll 

And for a confidential chat on how we can help you manage inappropriate behaviour at work and shape a more supportive and inclusive workplace call us on 01903 732 782 or Email us or contact us for information and updates.


Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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