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Inaugural meeting of The Charlotte Drake Society
Rachel Bampton

The Charlotte Drake Society has been established by girls within the College Sixth Form to augment the Pangbourne experience for girls. With the discourse of ‘Female Empowerment’ becoming ever more prevalent and necessary in today’s society, the pupils have sought to create a supportive environment where they can speak freely from any judgement. 

The society will be led by a pupil committee with oversight from Mrs Amanda Bowden, Mrs Harriet Paynter, and Miss Adina Buckland. The society will meet once a half term and is open to Sixth Form girls, with a view to extending invitation to Form 5 in the future.

The focus of the first meeting was to decide upon a name, as well as to outline the aims and missions of the society. The pupils concurred that a suitable idea would be to name it after one of the first girls who attended Pangbourne College, Charlotte Butterworth. Following a discussion centred around the topic of women taking their husband’s name in marriage, the girls also agreed that it would be appropriate to name it after Charlotte’s maiden name, Drake.

The aims and missions of the society are as follows:

  • To form a trusted group where girls can share experiences and learn from each other;
  • To be a voice and make a positive difference in the Pangbourne community; and
  • To empower each other to take the opportunities available.

On Friday 23 April, the pupils invited OP and Governor, Charlotte Butterworth, to participate as a guest speaker. Hosted via Zoom, Charlotte prepared an invigorating 10-15 minute talk which focused on her own experience of being the first girl here at Pangbourne. Recalling how at times being one of the only two girls in a male-centric environment proved challenging, she spoke in great detail about her earlier, educational years.

After the talk, a Q&A was held where the pupils presented Charlotte with multiple topical questions. It was clear that Charlotte provided an engaging and fascinating insight, commenting that ‘Womens’ skills are dynamite in the workplace’. 

Chairwoman, Emily (Upper Sixth), commented, ‘The first meeting was very successful with 40 girls attending, and in my opinion, this number represents the need for a society of this nature. My hope is to create a space where girls of any age feel comfortable enough to either share their achievements, or concerns, about Pangbourne College. I actively encourage as many Sixth Form girls and members of staff to attend, as our meetings are a great way to discuss interesting feminist topics.’.

A notable point of discussion was the use of language towards women. The pupils considered how, as a society, we can make an effort to change the narrative and wording around women, particularly on social media and within the mainstream media.

In preparation for the next meeting, the pupils have been tasked with identifying a woman who inspires them. They will research their chosen individual and present their thoughts at the upcoming meeting on Friday 11 June.

Committee members: Emily (Chairwoman, Upper Sixth), Katherine (Secretary), Emily, Emily, and Tess (all Lower Sixth).