Who's never been much for dabbling ~

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

See Jane Lead. Lead Jane, Lead.

I've been in the field of education for decades and although there are plenty of woman teachers, inequity exits when it comes to administration aka leadership.  Let me pause on this for a moment because although there is a preponderance of women in the classrooms, the percentages skew heavily towards men in the top decision-making positions.

What's wrong with this picture?  The problem is a reliance on a male-dominated leadership model which creates imbalance.  Schools are recreating the male-dominated court system, suspending students at an alarming rate - currently described in many articles as the "pipeline to prison" phenomenon. A relentless linear approach to curriculum and test-taking models are demoralizing and chasing off many of our best and brightest teachers (this would be more women since they are over-represented at the instruction level).

My point is not to be anti-male; it's to be for equity and balance.  Woman shouldn't replace all men in educational leadership positions, rather we should be at the same table, in the same meetings, leading side by side with male administrators.  Woman are under represented at both the state and national levels in both education and politics.  The focus must be on adding more woman to leadership positions so female values can be voiced along side the masculine.

Once at a youth leadership workshop a 15 year old male student angrily yelled at me that I was teaching everyone to "be a girl, not a leader."  His justification for his outburst was that his father had taught him what a leader was and "compromise and listening isn't how it's done!  That's weak!  You're teaching us to be weak."  There were a few tense minutes but it gave us a good place to start discussing why a female leadership instructor might be sharing the topics I was covering.  I didn't sway my young participant, but there was a healthy, vibrant discussion with many young men in the group agreeing there was the need for the qualities of strength and power along side listening, compromise and agreement.  I like to think the young women left pleased and the men (minus one) gave themselves points for considering.

Creating equity and balance will require embracing new models of leadership that value feminine traits. Traits that are not just considered my men, but are embraced by woman.  We dominate the numbers in education, yet apply for the top education positions in smaller numbers.  We are 51% of the population, yet run for office less often.  It's time to value our own strengths in order to be taken seriously as leaders of our youth, leaders of our states and leaders of our nation.  Lead Jane, Lead!

If you agree or disagree, I hope you'll leave a comment or go to my Facebook page and send me a message: http://www.facebook.com/CoachWSolutions

graph from 2012 Harvard Kennedy School Review

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