Initiative wants to elevate more women to education leadership roles
Although women are the backbone of America’s public schools – they hold more than 75 percent of all teaching jobs as well as most school-level administration positions like principal and assistant principal — nearly 80 percent of those in a district’s top job are men.
There’s really no good reason for it, experts say, since federal data show that women earn around two-thirds of all leadership degrees in education. It really boils down to societal and structural reasons, including stereotypes about male chief executives, biases about the capabilities of women, and perceived conflicts in balancing family responsibilities with the demands of senior leadership roles, according to Chiefs of Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders.
A district’s superintendent essentially acts as the CEO of the school system. And it’s a role held predominantly by white men.
“The extreme underrepresentation of women – especially women of color – in district superintendent and statewide education leadership roles in a gut punch and a call to action for all of us,” said Julia Rafal-Baer, managing partner of women-owned education policy firm ILO Group and former chief operating officer for Chiefs of Change.
Now, Chiefs of Change has announced that Barbara Jenkins — one of the longest-serving and most well-respected female school superintendents — will lead its Women in Leadership initiative.