The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) is a collective of 25 mainly independent schools throughout England and Wales, which describes itself as a ‘unique family’.
The head of the household certainly enjoys rare remuneration: during the year to August 31, 2019, chief executive Cheryl Giovannoni earned £273,974.
The GDST’s richly-rewarded CEO boasts: ‘We help girls to be confident, happy and fearless. In our schools, nothing holds them back.’
Nothing, that is, except the pernicious patriarchy, because earlier this week an anguished Ms Giovannoni asked: ‘How do women make sure that they are in partnerships or relationships where they don’t feel they have to carry the entire burden?’
What she pejoratively pigeonholes as the ‘burden’ is in fact the care of one’s own children – a chore Cheryl evidently believes should not impinge on a woman’s pursuit of her career.
At a time when myriad people are losing liberty and livelihoods, she pipes up with a factional feminist fret: ‘We cannot afford to allow the progress that has been made (in women’s employment) to be frittered away in the pandemic.’
Men are to blame, naturally. In a sweeping generalisation, Giovannoni airily asserts: ‘Men can be doing a ton more to recognise what their responsibilities are in sharing the load at home.’
The GDST’s head girl previously came to the attention of TCW in 2018, when Laura Perrins reported that cheerless Cheryl ‘wants to emasculate men in the boardroom (and probably other rooms)’.
Laura was responding to Giovannoni’s promotion of ‘feminine traits’ and her belittling of ‘gladiators’ in the boardroom: ‘The meeting room is not the Colosseum. And, frankly, you are not Russell Crowe.’
Last year she similarly complained that ‘leadership is all about being a ball-breaker in the boardroom’ – a caricature Giovannoni derided as one of the ‘old rules that we need to tear up’.
She also wished to shred the assumption that ‘women are innately better at some tasks and jobs, and men at others’, yet schizophrenically promised (or threatened): ‘Believe me, the future will be more female … to work effectively in the 21st century you need to be collaborative, emotionally intelligent, organised – leadership qualities women have in abundance.’
In her latest declaration, the GDST’s loaded leader brags: ‘Our schools … build confidence and empower women to feel that they can be in relationships where they feel they have the right to expect their partner to do 50 per cent of the heavy lifting.’
To this end, the female must avoid ‘performing the stereotypical role’ and the woman’s job should not be ‘just the second-degree career in a relationship’.
In a revelation which no doubt will shock Cheryl Giovannoni, many women – whisper it – purposely prioritise their children over a demanding career. There are even mothers who still – horror! – cheerfully choose to be the family’s primary carer.
In reality, most couples mutually develop a domestic arrangement which best suits their circumstances, and together they muddle through. Ordinary women on modest incomes who juggle work and family are unlikely to appreciate feminist fiats from an entitled educationalist earning over £270,000.
Asked earlier this year who had inspired her most in life, Giovannoni (a South African) named Nelson Mandela, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and, ahem, Greta Thunberg. Last week she identified Michelle Obama as a ‘great inspiration for GDST girls’.
Cheryl Giovannoni has been here for 25 years; with a newborn baby, she stayed on when her husband, a professor of neurology, landed a permanent job in the UK. Like the ‘inspirational’ Mrs Obama, Ms Giovannoni demonstrates to her pupils the value of marrying a successful man.