It's such a small word but has such far reaching implications.
My time in Banff at uLead 2017 gave me reason and time to reflect upon the global realities for educational leadership. Statistically, women make up a large majority of teachers but are in minority in leadership positions. This does seem somewhat illogical and is a situation that needs to be changed. Further, our classrooms have become highly diverse and reflect the global cultural reality better than the representation found in educational leadership positions.
Rather than focus on the "Why?" of the equity situation, I wish to look at "What can be done?". Are there ways that inequity in educational leadership can be addressed? In short, yes.
The University of Lethbridge, for example, identified ways to address equity and diversity in hiring practices. The document outlines equitable, fair and appropriate practices for advertising, candidate selection, interviewing and selection of new staff. This, in partnership with "blind" selection processes, where gender and diversity are masked, would assist in making educational leadership recruitment far more fair and globally reflective.
Is it so hard to make the decision to step away from the traditional methodologies of the 19th and 20th century models of recruitment into a more pluralistic and gender neutral system? Why would we allow bias and discrimination, whether purposeful or accidental, to get in the way of hiring the most qualified person for the job? This should apply to all hiring: teachers, middle administration, principals, senior administration, superintendents and even governmental educational leaders.
One thing that I have learned in my 28 years of teaching and leading in the many school environments I have experienced is that leaders come in many forms. The past 4 years, I have worked with the West 6 Network of schools in Edmonton Public Schools. A dynamic mix of 6 diverse schools working together to be better together than apart. It has been led by a variety of principals, assistant principals, curriculum coordinators, teachers, educational assistants, administrative assistants and other staff who work together to make meeting the needs of students and families more possible and effective. This diverse and highly equitable group have created success together, that would not have been possible as separate, isolated groups.
Finally, we need to encourage those we see around us, who are aspiring, future leaders to take the chance for leading and building their leadership capacities. We need more diverse, dynamic women and men to step forward and become educational leaders. Leadership development programs, like that in EPSB, offer excellent opportunities to develop leadership skills and to assist in creating our future school and divisional leadership. If we actively encourage those who have leadership abilities but are reluctant to actively pursue leadership, we will create a more equitable and diverse pool of candidates.
It is time to reflect on our current practice, rock the educational landscape and change the reality within our leadership circles to be more global and equitable.