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Reclaiming bossy: seeing girls and women differently in education and work

Have you, your daughter, or another woman you know ever been called ‘bossy’?

If so, you might relate to this episode of Let’s Go Further. We speak to two highly successful women from the fields of politics and education: Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, and Debra Gray MBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Hull College Group. Informed by their personal lives and careers, Jess and Debra discuss the value that women bring to leadership, the structural changes needed to break down the barriers that women face, and the potential of education to transform the lives of girls and women. We also look at how women continue to shoulder the vast majority of care responsibilities and why this needs to change.

So, do join us as we aim to shift society’s perspectives of women – and reclaim bossiness as a good thing!

About Jess Phillips MP:

Jess Phillips MP is committed to improving the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. Before becoming an MP, Jess worked for Women’s Aid in the West Midlands developing services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, human trafficking and exploitation. She became a local Councillor in 2012, where she worked tirelessly to support residents. Her hard work was recognised when she became Birmingham’s first ever Victims Champion.

Since becoming an MP, Jess has continued her fight to support those who need it most and has earned a reputation for plain speaking. Since being elected, she has been unfazed by threats and continues to call out sexist attitudes and promote women’s rights.

Jess has written three bestselling books ‘The Life of an MP’, ‘EveryWoman’ and ‘Truth to Power’. All books reflect her commitment to speaking up and having the courage to have your voice heard and make a difference.

About Debra Gray MBE:

Debra Gray MBE is the current Principal and Chief Executive of Hull College, a position she has held since April 2022. Before joining Hull College, Debra worked in various leadership roles in the further education and skills sector. She is the former Principal and Deputy Chief Executive of TEC Partnership, where in 2017, she and her team secured an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspection, the only college in Lincolnshire and the Humber to do so. 

Debra was awarded an MBE for services to further education in the Queen’s 2020 birthday honours.


  • Visit Hull College’s website.
  • Visit Jess’ website.
  • View the books Jess has written here.
  • Download the transcript for this episode here.

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The business of skills

9 April 2024

Length: 27:06