An excerpt from my recent eSchool News Learning Leadership column.
Recently, I had the unique opportunity to be one of a handful of males who sat in with a group of 300 women in school leadership when they convened in Newport Beach, Calif., to network, share, and learn from one another.
This was the second year that the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) had collaborated with the Association of California School Administrators to put on the “Women in School Leadership Forum.”
Last year, the event was held in San Diego and drew about 150 participants. Attesting to the success of last year’s event, this year’s attendance doubled. When asked how many would return if the event were held again next year, the majority of women enthusiastically raised their hands and promised to bring a friend, indicating that next year’s attendance might double once more.
Seventy-two percent of the education workforce consists of women, yet the number of women in leadership positions falls far short of that statistic. They fare best in the role of elementary school principals, with 54 percent of these jobs being held by women. But at the secondary school level, only 26 percent of principals are women, and in the head job of superintendent, 24 percent are women.
Thelma Melendez, former assistant secretary of education under Arne Duncan and currently superintendent in Santa Ana, Calif., will tell you that it takes a woman, on the average, 15 years to move into an administrative position—whereas it will take only five years for a man.
The frustration is palpable, and the women come together to look for mentors, to network, to share their experiences, to learn from those who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, and to unravel the mystery behind the gender gap that is a reality in school leadership.Full column.