Course launched in partnership with Oxford Brookes to help girls tackle sexism

Hannah Yelin and Michele Paule
Dr Hannah Yelin (left) and Dr Michele Paule.

Oxford Brookes University academics have joined forces with award-winning social enterprise Sex Ed Matters, to create a free course designed to equip girls with the skills to tackle gender stereotypes.

The new course, offered to schools nationally and starting later this month, has been developed by campaigner Laura Coryton from Sex Ed Matters and draws directly on data compiled by Dr Michele Paule and Dr Hannah Yelin from Oxford Brookes whose research looked at girls’ experiences of barriers to power. 

Sex Ed Matters works in schools, universities and other organisations to deliver workshops on sex education topics including consent, healthy relationships, sexuality, and periods. The new course has been made possible thanks to funding from Oxford Brookes University’s Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Awards 2023-24. 

The course aligns with several areas of the curriculum, including PHSE (Personal, Health, Social and Economic), and citizenship, and is structured around five clear steps to help students launch their own campaigns to tackle sexism.

Dr Paule, Reader in Communication, Media and Culture at Oxford Brookes University, said: “We’re delighted to see our research data being put to such exciting use. We hope that helping girls to become confident campaigners now might encourage them to take up leadership roles in the future. This course aims to help them build necessary skills, and to take some of the mystery out of how to make changes.”

Teachers enrolled on the course will gain access to resources and videos to help them support students interested in making change, and bring the five steps to life. There will be a closing event in March 2024 when students can raise awareness of their campaigns and connect with decision makers. Speakers will include Shaista Aziz, co-founder of the The Three Hijabis  anti racism in football campaign and Payzee Mahmod, campaigner against forced marriages and honour killings.

Laura Coryton from Sex Ed Matters is well-known as the founder of Stop Taxing Periods, which successfully campaigned to abolish tax on period products. Earlier this year she was awarded Innovate UK’s Young Innovator of the Year award.

Laura said: “I started my tampon tax petition when I was a student. Today, we’ve changed UK and EU law and we have sister petitions in every continent. Young people can make significant positive changes in the world when they are supported. We have designed this course to give students the tools they need to speak up just like I did and to be the change they want to see in the world.”

Schools interested in joining the course can do so by emailing

You can find out more about the free course on the Sex Ed Matters website. Laura  Coryton has campaigned for years to get the UK Government to abolish the VAT on tampons and sanitary towels. The tax was finally abolished in 2021. 

Read more about Michele Paule and Hannah Yelin’s research into girls and leadership.

Photo: Laura Coryton.