Why the Lack of Women in Educational Leadership Matters

Photo from Huffington Post

Looking back on my time from kindergarten to senior year of high school, the majority of my teachers were female. I only had five classes with male teachers out of four to six classes a year for thirteen years. I loved (most of) my teachers, but I was always troubled by the gender gap. This article from the Huffington Post is too.

“Women account for more than 70% of last year’s valedictorians. They’re at the top of their class, but that appears to be where they stay. More than three-quarters of public school teachers are female while only 30% of educational administrators are. Put simply, women are doing the work while men are making the decisions.”

“Culturally, we value male leadership above female. The disparity is evidenced by research out of North Carolina State University. The results showed that students rated the professors they thought were male much higher than the professors believed to be female, regardless of the professor’s actual gender.”

We think it is very important to read this piece, and to understand what it means. Women still have a long way to go before we achieve true gender equality. Think about your teachers, your professors, your administrators. What was their gender? What did your classmates say about them? This piece calls for reflection.

“In light of this research, the question persists: how do we strike balance across all industries? Although a single-step fix is impossible, there is an action we can take. We need to hire more women as educational leaders. Education is the most promising frontier for change because the next generation of jobseekers and eventual employers must first spend 13 years in the primary and secondary school environment. Many of those will then move on to post-secondary institutions and spend another four, six, or eight years being molded by those in the education industry.”

“Yet, change is taking longer than it should. The proportion of females holding the position of superintendent in public school districts is only increasing by 0.7% annually, meaning it will take almost 80 years for females to be proportionately represented in public schools. We can expedite that rate, but it starts with a shift in conversation about educational leadership.”

Eighty years is way too long! Education is the launchpad for change. Once the conversation changes and effective change comes with it, society’s view on female leadership can shift in a positive direction. It starts with you, your school and your community.

“Nearly every profession suffers because of our perpetuation of gender inequality. If the issue isn’t hiring, it’s promotions. For every step taken in the right direction, we are reminded that our journey has just begun. As school leaders take a moment of pause this summer to reflect, I ask that they ponder Ms. Garner’s words: ‘Isn’t it time we change the conversation?'”

“My thesis is simple: If we want to change society, we have to change the way we teach them.”

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