Breaking down gender stereotypes in a male-dominated prison environment
By Sally Garratt, Director of Operations.
Statistics show that men are 22 times more likely than women to be imprisoned, and with men making up 95% of the prison population, contact with positive female role models when in the prison system is at best minimal and at worst non-existent.
Many men’s circumstances leave them with a limited understanding of what women can – and should – be able to achieve. But often, they will have a wife, daughter, sister or niece – females in their lives with whom they will play an influential role.
While Novus works hard to provide people in prison with education, training and employability skills, so they are better equipped to find a job, provide for their family and not reoffend, we also need to look at how we can influence gender stereotypes in such a male-dominated environment.
Specifically, we should address serving men’s knowledge on what successful women can achieve – and in turn inspire the women in their lives to strive for greater goals.
The number of successful, strong women working in the prison environment is evident. Within Novus alone, over 60% of our senior leadership team are women, with a vast majority of that number having started their career working on the ground in prisons and building a successful career within the sector.
At Novus, not only are we providing those in custody the learning and skills needed to leave a life of crime behind them, we now have a perfect opportunity to inspire them to see what women can accomplish. Through positive role-modelling, we can help to raise the aspirations of offenders for females in their family, friendship groups and wider community, building a virtuous circle of positive reinforcement.
As educators, and women, our job as influencers cannot be underestimated. I feel very lucky in my working life that I am part of a team that makes a real positive difference. In fact, I feel hugely privileged to be working with inspirational women right across Novus – we are making a difference every day and addressing gender stereotypes and raising the profile of strong women.
Every day we lay the foundations for change to help and support individuals to influence their future – and the futures of those around them.