Where Are All of the Female Leaders?. This blog post struck a nerve with me. Because I am one of those teachers who is choosing to become a leader after my children grew up. I felt like the writer was chastising my choice, and this is really the problem that keeps occurring among professional women. Why do we have to try to do it all before forty?
I just finished the first year of a two year teacher leadership program. Honestly, I can’t imagine how I would have done it with kids at home. I just don’t have the stamina to be three people (mom, teacher, student) at once. Oh yeah, and wife. I admire those who can do it, but I am not one of them. I have an extremely supportive husband who always handled 50% or more of the parenting duties, but I didn’t want to miss anything. I was a mom and a student (and wife) during the last year of my BS degree and later while I completed my Masters degree. I know what it’s like to juggle those two roles. I think I did it pretty well. To be honest, I find teaching to be more demanding than parenting. I don’t think I juggled the roles of teacher and student nearly as well as I juggled being mom and student.
I don’t regret the choices that I’ve made… except when my classmates are all chatting about their young children and I feel ancient.
The author raises good questions, but I submit that we could increase the number of women in educational leadership if we spent more effort encouraging older, more experienced teachers to consider making that transition. I’m not yet 50, but I do feel old in my leadership classes. I would say the average age of my classmates is between 35-40.
Even though I still have potentially 15+ working years left, my principal was surprised that I would want to pursue something like this “at this point in my career.” Perhaps women are receiving the message that they can’t, or shouldn’t, pursue leadership if they choose to wait.
I bring to the table the wisdom that comes from years of teaching and surviving raising two kids through toddlerhood and teens.
If a female teacher leader chooses to limit herself at one point in her career, that choice should be accepted just as we we accept and encourage the one who decided to go for it early on. That teacher has years ahead to take on more leadership roles. Please don’t write her off! If she has the potential now, it will only get better with experience.