After recently finishing Leading While Female: A Culturally Proficient Response for Gender Equity by Trudy T. Arriaga, Stacie L. Stanley and Delores B. Lindsey, I was reflecting on the amazing women leaders who have served as my teachers, mentors, sponsors, colleagues, and friends throughout my 23+ career in education.
“Our best reporting shows that women make up 75% of teachers, 52% of principals, and fewer than 25% of superintendents. We can safely say that women are doing the work of classroom teaching while, disproportionately, men are making administrative and leadership decisions.”
Every time I see the statistics above I marvel at the incredible luck I’ve had to work for more women leaders than these averages. Since I began teaching, I have had as my direct or indirect supervisor: 1 female assistant principal (and many males), 2 female principals (and 3 males), 7 female assistant superintendents (1 male), and 5 female superintendents (3-4 males). My first three years of teaching I only saw male leaders, but once I moved to San Diego and found a great position, I was blessed to see women leading at all levels of the educational system.
While I had no ambitions to even become principal at that time in my career, it was never a doubt that I could, if I wanted to. Then that first female principal, my now-friend Bobbie, saw leadership potential in me and she encouraged me (now I recognize this as sponsorship) to get my Master’s Degree so I could move into administration. From then on, I continued to learn and grow under the support of female and male mentors who expanded my knowledge, challenged my thinking, and provided me opportunities to do and be more than I knew was possible.
I was pleased to be able to “pay it forward” in my director roles, when I was in a formal position to mentor instructional coaches, coordinators, and assistant principals, as well as aspiring leaders through the academy I ran for three years. I am so proud of all of the academy “graduates” who are now assistant principals and principals. It is so important that we seek out our own mentors and that we intentionally mentor others. Just as I believe every educator can benefit from their own instructional coach, every aspiring and current leader can grow with the support of mentors. Often we need someone else to show us what is possible, especially if we are women who put in way more time than men do before applying for the next level position.
As a female leader, I will continue to support other leaders at all levels of our system. How are you supporting leaders in your system?