Why don’t women timetable?

It’s a question we’re regularly asked and a subject we could discuss all day: “Why don’t Women Timetable?”  Of course, our response is always the same: that women do timetable. And very well too, we hasten to add.


But not as often as they should.


“Men are much more likely to take on the role of timetabler” says Edval UK CEO, Chris Cooper ‘I’ve found from 20 years of timetabling and hundreds of interactions with schools that most secondary timetablers are men. There’s no doubt.”


Here at Edval, we know there’s nothing innately ‘male’ about timetabling and that women can schedule with the best of them. In fact, we’re very proud to say that over half of our professional consultants are women, and they work to create beautiful, high-quality timetables every day of the year. With this in mind, we believe it’s time to discard this tired old tale, and have been busy travelling around the world to spread the word. We want to bust the myths, shatter the stereotypes and show teachers everywhere that timetabling is for everyone.


Last month, for instance, we flew to The English College in Prague, Czech Republic, to deliver a beginners’ timetabling session to a group of timetable-curious school leaders and aspirants. Organised as part of the grassroots ‘WomenEd’ movement, established to support women to senior leadership positions, the day comprised various professional development sessions, including two introductory timetabling sessions, led by Edval.


“Since school leaders often do the timetabling and are disproportionately male, women can be left out of being considered for this position” says event organiser, Emily Rankin, who is both a Deputy Headteacher and national lead for WomenEd Czech “What an untapped resource for such a valuable whole-school remit! Getting timetabling right is critical to healthy school systems, and knowing how it works really puts you at the heartbeat of a school.”


This wasn’t the first time Edval was invited to deliver timetable training to an enthusiastic group from WomenEd. In March of this year, the UK team travelled to Didcot, Oxfordshire, to deliver a day-long timetabling workshop to mark International Women’s Day. After a full day of scheduling, the event organiser (WomenEd co-founder and Headteacher, Hannah Wilson) encouraged attendees to create a written pledge to become more involved in their own school timetable, pointing out that it is a key school leadership role that should be open to men and women alike.


You might now be wondering where this apparent aversion to timetabling comes from in the first place. Some suggest that it might be linked to the long-debunked stereotype that men are innately better at ‘numbers’ and ‘puzzles’. Others think it is because men are more likely to volunteer first . But when we posed this question on Twitter, the responses were rather different and tended to echo Rankin’s views. Some UK teachers and education leaders suggested that timetabling is a ‘senior role’ and the problem is that many schools simply lack female representation at leadership level.


“Is it reluctance to timetable specifically?” pondered a female timetabler via Twitter, “Or is it representative of a wider issue of women in leadership?”


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