A.B Paterson College on the Gold Coast accused of sexism for choosing two male captains


Private school is accused of SEXISM for promoting two boys to school captain and vice-captain ‘upon merit alone… as it should be’

  • Parents left ‘bewildered’ after A.B. Paterson College elects two male captains
  • The Gold Coast College traditionally chooses one male and one female leader 
  • School captain and vice-captain positions were given to two male students 
  • Despite backlash the college defended the choice was ‘based upon merit alone’ 


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A private school has come under fire from ‘bewildered’ parents for choosing two male students as school captains.

A.B. Paterson College, which promotes itself as ‘a leading co-educational, non-denominational private school’, announced the two male leaders on Monday.

Traditionally, the Gold Coast school chooses one male and one female leader for role of captain and vice-captain.

Principal Joanne Sheehy sent an email to parents earlier in the week announcing the two male student were selected ‘based upon merit alone’.

Parents of students at A.B. Paterson College on the Gold Coast (pictured) have slammed the private school's decision to choose a male school captain and vice-captain

Parents of students at A.B. Paterson College on the Gold Coast (pictured) have slammed the private school’s decision to choose a male school captain and vice-captain

‘We select the best candidate for the portfolio position, with our processes based upon merit alone, as it should be,’ the email read.

But parents of students attending the prestigious school expressed disappointment that female students were overlooked for the roles. 

‘In an age of equality what does this show to all the female students at the college, what does this say to all the female students who went for a captaincy role,’ one parent told The Gold Coast Bulletin.

‘I thought it was 2021 not 1821. I find this a repulsive decision in this day and age.

‘There are a lot of upset and bewildered students and parents. I thought A.B. Paterson was a progressive school not regressive.’

Another parent told the news outlet said the decision left some of the female students who applied ‘feeling worthless’ and wondered how the choice was made during ‘an age of equality’.

said the decision left some of the female students who applied 'feeling worthless' (pictured, stock photo)

said the decision left some of the female students who applied 'feeling worthless' (pictured, stock photo)

said the decision left some of the female students who applied ‘feeling worthless’ (pictured, stock photo) 

Professor Susan Harris Rimmer Director of the Griffith University Policy Innovation Hub said modelling gender equality and diversity is important.

‘The merit argument just ignores all available evidence the playing field is not fair. We are nowhere near that point yet,’ she told the Bulletin.

‘We are nowhere near gender equality in the careers these kids will choose when they leave school.’

Professor Rimmer added women only held 32.5 per cent of key management positions, 28.1 per cent of directors, 18.3 per cent of chief executives, and 14.6 per cent of board chairs.

‘So best practice is the leadership team should represent the demographics of the student body, otherwise you get into ideas about who ‘good leaders’ are,’ she said.

The Equality Rights Alliance’s National Gender Equality Plan on Education outlined school practices were crucial in tackling gender inequality.

The plan recommended school policies needed to be examined through a ‘critical gender lens’ to ensure schools were actively promoting equality among students.

Extra support for girls transitioning from school to tertiary education and employment were also critical factors in closing the gender divide.

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