Claire Venables has been in ELT since 2001. She has wide-ranging experience as a teacher, trainer and DoS. After a decade in Europe she moved to Brazil where she is involved in the creation and implementation of EFL programmes for young learners and training for teachers. She is also a founding member of the Voices SIG, which promotes gender equality and career development for women in ELT. This May 5th and 6th Claire will be presenting a pre-conference event Celebrating Women in ELT at the annual Innovate ELT Conference at Oxford TEFL Barcelona.
I have always been a feminist and issues such as gender equality and empowerment of women are topics close to my heart. However, it wasn’t until I heard Nicola Prentis give a plenary at the Innovate ELT conference that feminism began to take an active role in my career. Her talk called “Three reasons why I shouldn’t be giving this plenary” became a catalyst for lots of positive changes in my career. When she talked about imposter syndrome and how it can hold you back it really resonated with where I was at professionally and personally at the time.
Following on from that talk, I decided that when I got back to Brazil I would try to start a group of ELT women who would work to examine and overcome the kinds of mindsets that hold us back as well as pooling our resources to help each other develop professionally. It was after a conference in Sao Paulo last year that I found myself at a table with just such a group of women. It was clearly something that everyone saw the need for and the idea quickly grew into a Special Interest Group (SIG) which would potentially be able to be a voice for many minorities in ELT.
Together with four other founding members; Nina Loback, Ilá Coimbra , Cintia Rodrigues, and Cecilia Nobre, I started VOICES for Women, which became the first official Special Interest Group of its kind. Although the official launch event was only on April 1st, we already have many plans for 2017 which we hope will make an impact on ELT in Brazil. By providing support and resources, we hope to help women move their careers in the direction they choose.
My personal mission this year is to create, contribute and connect. Voices has given me a way to do this by allowing me to continue my coaching and mentoring work with an even larger number of women in Brazil. If you are thinking of starting your own group, feel free to get in contact as we would love to support more initiatives like this one.
I would love to be able to meet you at the Innovate ELT Conference this May and hopefully empowering each other and the ELT Industry as a whole.
You can catch Claire at the Celebrating Women in ELT: Reflect, empower, act Pre-Conference Event on May 5th at the Innovate ELT conference. Tickets cost 60€ and include a discount on the main conference entry. Follow the links for more information and how to buy.