This is not a post with answers. I wish I had them. This is a post with questions, pondering, and definitely a personal reflection. But answers? I don’t have those yet.
I didn’t realize how many teachers were women until I became an education major. Sitting in my class I couldn’t help but notice the disparity of women to men. As I focused on elementary education the gap widened and there would only be a few token men among us. Odd to say the least coming from a mathematical schooling background. As I started going in to schools I noticed the same, every school would have maybe one or two male teachers, along with a male custodian, and almost always a male principal. I kept wondering where the male teachers were? Had we chased them out of education? Did you have to be female to be a part of an elementary school?
That all changed when I got connected. Through blogging, Twitter and online presentations, I found all of the male teachers. In fact, I found so many of them I started to wonder where did all of the females go? Sure there are many female teachers on Twitter, but when we look at who is “more” connected whether you measure that as extra projects done, books written, presentations done, more followers, or even keynote speakers, I started to notice a disparity. While I may work in a female dominated professions, when it came to putting oneself out there, the male educators are more prominent.
Perhaps to some this is not a big deal, but as a female, and a feminist to boot, I can’t help but wonder why this is? Why does it appear that there are more heavily connected males in education than females? Why does it appear that more keynotes are given by males? More education books written by males? More educations related projects started by males? Is it a reporting slant or is actually true?
Have we as females regaled ourselves to “just” be teachers and shy away from self-promotion upping our connectedness? Have we found ourselves to be too busy to leave our families and go to conferences? Too busy to put in conference proposals? Are we too modest to toot our own horn? Too something to not be viewed as potential keynote speakers? Surely, male educators experience the same?
Am I wrong here? I consider myself pretty connected and although I know some incredible women in education, I know way many more males. Why is that? As I started out by saying, I wish I had the answers, I don’t but I cannot help but wonder: where do all the female educators go? And why aren’t we more connected?
65 thoughts on “Where Are All the Connected Female Educators?”
I’m with ya! There are a ton of men out there presenting, on Twitter, and writing. But, we too are here! We are trying…trying to connect, trying to keep up with work and kids, trying to find balance, and trying to be comfortable with being assertive and confident enough to put yourself out there. For some reason, I think there is still this feeling of it not being appropriate to be in the limelight or toot your own horn. I get the sense sometimes that people view women teachers differently in this way than our men colleagues. It seems more normal in our American culture to let men take charge and a role of leadership than men. I wonder what Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, founder and CEO of The Powerful Learning Practice might say. I am pretty sure she would be rooting women on to get out there, be strong, connect and be a leader! Anyway, I am presenting at Global EdCon on The #Malala Project, an Attempt at a Global PBL. I will keep trying too!
I absolutely agree with you, I always have a hard time putting myself out there and presenting myself as someone who has something to add. I am not sure why and it is something I actively combat because I am frankly sick of putting myself in the corner.
I’ve noticed the same thing. I’ve been purposefully seeking out women teachers who are active online to form bonds with. I wish I had the energy to be more active online, but I’m in a weird place with personal + education life and I’m not around as much. Keep asking the questions — they make us think!
I have noticed this, too! I think it’s related to the lack of confidence women sometimes have in their abilities to use technology. Men are often expected to be skilled in this area, but women have been exposed to stereotypes for so long that it is not their strength, that many have come to believe that, and are afraid to try.
I agree with many of the replies to your questions. For me it is a lack of confidence with technology use. You have inspired me to get more involved, Pernille.
I’ve noticed this too. I also find I prefer working with male teachers generally because they tend to be more connected and innovative. I don’t know why this is. The best is when a school has a good mixture of men and women. I find then then conversations are richer and there’s just generally a better balance.
I think it is primarily a cultural issue. Women are expected to stay home and tend to the home fires while the men hunt and gather. Many women feel guilty when choosing to be away from their families. And, we culturally accept males as leaders much more easily. Right or wrong these are realities.
I saw that in particular when involved with new principal hiring, many teachers said they would prefer a male principal because it would be “less drama.” I find it disheartening that we can be our own gender’s worst enemy.
Pernille, As a female Principal, I ate, lived and breathed that sentiment of preference for a “male”principal, for over 14 years and it turned my stomach and broke my heart. I was professionally attacked at every school where I was a principal by a female teacher, female parent and 2 female superintendents. All the while I prayed, held my head high and kept working to do the best I could for my students and the rest of the school community. Sadly as I was thrown into one challenge after another, I observed that male colleagues continued to succeed…even in the midst of their–dare I say it, incompetence. I too like you Pernile find it extremely disheartening that we as women in this great profession, don’t do more to LIFT EACH OTHER UP!
I am on a personal mission to be an advocate for women to lean in, step up and Do It!. I get so annoyed when I see conference keynotes, blog articles, twitter features, national education articles, are those which highlight mostly men. Or worse…educated women fawning over men on twitter and at conferences!!! Please stop, ladies!! So let’s make a commitment NOW to stand in the gap–hands together–heads held high–with strong confident voices–supporting one another to be promoted and successful!
You said it so much more “politically correct” than I had planned. 🙂 Basically, the men have women at home doing laundry for them, cooking for them, raising kids for them, and allowing them the time to pursue their educational and career aspirations.
Currently, it is 10PM, and I am at my school trying to complete some research that is due tomorrow night for my grad work, but I don’t have anyone at home to do the chores or mind the critters, so I have to come to my workplace to be able to focus on my schoolwork rather than cleaning the nasty house and loving on the very cuddly kitties. 🙂
I love my single life, but women in general often have to do it all–single or not, and sometimes we have to do it all for more than just ourselves. Sadly, some of us just don’t have the time management thing mastered and we get distracted…oh look, a kitty…
This has bugged me for a while but I’ve never been able to put it as beautifully as you did here. To some extent I agree with Suzanne that cultural norms impact our choices when children are young. Similar issues are seen in academia where publications and presentations matter significantly for professional advancement. I think there are also issues of sexism at play, although subtle.
Reblogged this on Principal Ponderings.
Thank you for saying it out loud. Heidi Hutchinson’s comment mentioned Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, and yes, she has brought up this subject before. In a conference PLP Network organized last year, she made a point of featuring women keynote speakers (of which I was honored to be one).
Great post! I think you are spot on. I think you answered a lot of your questions. I know for myself, I feel pretty connected, but when the choice is an hour long Ed chat on a Wednesday night or hanging with my family, I will always choose my family. I think the ego plays a big part in some of the opportunities as well. Men generally like the ego boost presentations bring them. I know this sounds sexist in itself but I think it’s true. I’ve done a few presentations in the last three years and enjoy sharing with others, but it isn’t always a top priority. I think there are plenty of connected women educators, they just don’t always take it to next level or think about self-promoting.
I agree with you Jenny. I spend so little time with my family that when at home, I generally devote the hours to spending time with them rather than connecting to a webinar or twitter chat. I am new to teaching and worked in the arts for 20 years. I came into this profession at around 50 years old. I had a difficult time even finding a teaching job because it seemed that schools were more interested in hiring very young women. Why?
I know for me it is the lack of time. I teach science, coach school league sports teams every semester, and have two of my own very recreationally active children. I also play a sport recreationally once a week to get in ‘my’ time. The remaining (or lack thereof) time is spent fitting in household chores (bills, cleaning, groceries, laundry, etc), friends, family, my dogs and quality family time with my extremely helpful and supportive husband and children.
So, spending an hour tweeting or writing a book or preparing for a presentation…no thanks! I stay as connected as I possibly can but it is another thing that I have to ‘fit in’. I wish I knew how the men do it differently! 😉
I have to agree with much of what Jenny has said. When I first really became connected 2 years ago I found I lost myself in the technology. My evenings were spent with my lap top, ipad and iphone surrounding me. After hearing from my 17 year old son that I was a little over the top I consciously decided this needed to stop and that my family needed my attention. I have come to realize that if I want to feel refreshed each day for my students I need to disconnect. Many blog ideas are not being published and I rarely have time to read twitter anymore but a balance needed to be found. I still spend copious amounts of time at work and many of my weekends also have some time allocated to my work but I realized something had to give and that became what I share with others in the profession on line and at workshops. I have to think that many other women are feeling the same.
I’ll be brave and be the first man to comment…
If it’s true the women tend to focus more on relationships than men, then I wonder if some women are more skeptical of virtual connections than men might be. There’s a level of trust and vulnerability that has to occur online for these connections to work.
I also agree that most women still carry the bulk of the household duties at home and have less time than many of their male counterparts.
That’s certainly not all the reasons but I think might be part of it.
Thank you Dean for being brave. I do find I have less time to travel away from my family and that my husband thinks about it much longer than i would if he were to leave. There is still some form of gender imbalance in the home and I think ti is harder for women (complete generalization here) to escape the guilt that can come with being away from the home. I feel like I “sacrifice” my family when I go to conferences, i wonder if men feel that as well or to the same extent?
I’m not sure this is all bad. I wouldn’t attribute it to imbalance but suggest that gender differences should be celebrated. That said, I’m not advocating that these roles be set in stone but I think we all make sacrifices and in terms of marriages, you should play to your strengths. Sometimes that’s gender based, other times it’s based on personality.
I think it’s great that some men choose to stay at home while their wife works, I just don’t think that will ever be balanced and I don’t think balance with that should be the goal. (here’s hoping I didn’t get myself into trouble here 😉
I can totally see Dean’s viewpoint, and second it. I also wonder… Is it not in the nature of a male to “brag” or call attention to himself? I don’t see women on Twitter saying things like, “If you believe in student choice, follow me.” I can, however, name three men who have done such a thing – multiple times – and have actually made me consider not following them because they are so brash about it. I follow a TON of women – I don’t know the ratio I’ve seen, but I’d think it’s more even than what you see. I think many of them are more humble than men, but of course – I really have no clue! 😉 Maybe it’s all perspective. We’re here, Pernille. Hello!
But that’s exactly it, I follow a lot of women on Twitter which tells me they are out there, but then when I go to conferences I don’t see nearly as many women either presenting or keynoting (or sometimes even attending).
This nails a huge part of it. The number of men (and particularly straight white men) held up as visionary thought leaders (or proclaiming themselves as visionary thought leaders) is not in proportion to the vision, thought, or leading done by said individuals.
I also think that one of the metrics used to gauge “influence” – Twitter – is still a relatively unwelcoming place for women. If you look at the abuse heaped upon women who speak up, its not surprising that others don’t.
And that’s wrong, and something that needs to change as well.
I don’t have any answers either. But I’m glad to see a post that lays out some of the issues clearly. Thanks for writing this.
I admit, I’ve been asked to present at a few conferences and such, but my favorite is GaETC, and I don’t want to present htere b/c it would take away from my participating in sessions with other folks who are more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. This may change if I ever feel I’ve reached “Techno-guru” status or lived up to my moniker, The Magnificent Media Maven. 🙂
I don’t really think about gender issues when I’m learning from someone, unless of course they’re spouting an agenda that marginalizes the opposite gender. I do think there are a plethora of women I could be learning from if they were participating more, so by all means ladies, let’s get out there and be heard. @Flylady @TheFlyLady posits we can do anything for 15 minutes, so maybe that’s the key–Baby Steps in our own personal knowledge management/Community of Practice.
One thing that bugs me is educators who are actively teaching and involved in classrooms with students choose to obtain higher education degrees and move on to teach in higher education college classrooms. In fact, that is what I am working towards right now myself. However, I do not want to leave the everyday classroom or school setting because far too many educators do and lose touch with the reality of teaching and student needs. Education and society changes way too quickly to not stay connected and on top of issues and trends.
My experiences, at least within the Texas edu circuit, had been the exact opposite. Women are the overwhelming majority in attendance. TCEA, our state technology conference seems to do a great job of balancing keynotes…including both genders.
With that said, our issue, which seems to be consistent with social networking edu, is lack of racial diversity.
There are women presenting, featured and keynoting. There are very few…sometimes none…people of color.
It’s interesting how our connections are viewed state to state as well as conference to conference.
I hear you -and believe my workplace reflects the same gender imbalance. I am on leave this year but your post reflect the reality in my workplace. The most common answer to why not blog or use social media was ‘too busy’, the second would be a fear of the technology and not having time to fully understand how it works. I have often been asked by my female teaching peers how did I learn all this.The answer is simple – play with it. Try it out, find things that float your boat and spend a bit of time each day on it. I often got rolled eyes. me female coworkers are such dedicated teachers and so much of their time goes into preparation and correction there is little time for extra things like blogging. Once ‘school’ is done family and housework gets their attention next. I did most o my learning about social media at 6 am with my coffee before family routine began. These days I am single and empty nested – there is much more time for it. I am currently out of school so I do not post about that any more – but all my connections and links are there ready for when I do return to teaching 🙂
I had a similar conversation with Adam Bellow the Friday before ISTE started. My complaint is this: when you look at “premier” conferences that pull in keynotes and featured speakers/presenters (the ones who are paid), they are overwhelmingly white and male. There are always exceptions to the rule, and I am not trying to take ANYTHING away from my wonderful friends who are on these “lists.” They are well-qualified, very inspiring, and completely deserve the invitations.
If you focus on diversity, though, there is little to be found. (Again, always exceptions.)
When I look through my own connections on Twitter and blogs, I see a good mixture of men and women. I don’t think that it’s so much that women don’t want to put themselves out there. I know of plenty women educators, including myself, who submit proposals to conferences and present as often as we can. Is it balanced? I don’t know… I don’t think so.
I hesitate to even post this comment, because I don’t want to be viewed as that “whiny female” who is jealous that she’s not getting invitations. That’s not it. I think there are some really great female voices out there who aren’t getting as much attention as their male counterparts. Period. The same could be said for different races, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds.
This changes when those making decisions about whom to invite or showcase begin to consider how a diverse connected community makes us all better.
You bring up another great point Michelle, I have been carrying this post in my head for a long time because I was afraid of the label that may be placed on me as a “whiny female.” I also almost did a disclaimer on it afraid of who I might offend by even asking the question and then stopped myself. I think there is something to be changed and discussed here, and not just with the seemingly female disparity but definitely also with the minority questions.
And of course this is not to take away from all of those who give keynotes, write books, etc, it never is.
I admit, I have been thinking about this for a while today.
A few years back, I got in a bit of trouble by calling out a conference for not having female speakers in their line-up — In fact, I made someone so angry that she has not talked to me since. — so, it is something I have noticed, and continue to notice.
I thought one comment — truly hit home — ” I find it disheartening that we can be our own gender’s worst enemy.” Which I think, often we are — we give excuses for why perhaps women are not as prominent, instead of saying “this just is not right.”
Go to twitter right now, ask a question — who are the 5 top keynote people you know….and I can guarantee you that over 80% will have 4 men — at least. Not always on purpose, but those names jump out first.
So how do we stop this — or how do we encourage this to change?
We start sharing names ourselves, we fill out forms when asked at conferences “who should we include”, we twitter out when we see “male dominance flare up on the list of speakers” and we always drop 2 names for every 1 man name we drop.
However, I don’t think that a female should be chosen to be a keynote just because they are a female and a conference has not had one yet. Yet neither do I believe that a conference should just place a man in the role because he is more known.
BUT TO BE HONEST —
What I would like to see is more of a conversation of “WHY is so and so been handed the microphone”? Not a question about gender….but a question about content, topic, and influence and persuasiveness.
When it comes down to the power of the message — rather than the gender of the speaker, I think we all will become more wise.
Great point Jen! I think there is much we can do to lift each other up, get each other out there and then make sure that everyone who does get a bigger platform has much to give, no matter their race, no matter their gender.
This post as well as the comments really resonated with me! When I went to ISTE this year I was VERY excited that a female gamer, Jane McGonigal, was one of our speakers. Her message was awesome! Rafranz make a great point, in that we need more diversity in whose message we are hearing. I think we all need to come together to find, encourage, and promote the speakers whose message is most powerful and insightful.
Thank you for this post!
Wow, what a lot of food for thought in this post!
You ask: where do all the female educators go? And why aren’t we more connected?
I do wonder if part of the reason we see so many more male than female teachers presenting at conferences and on Twitter is a result of the fact that conferences and Twitter span all ages and stages of education. While in primary school teachers tend to be overwhelmingly female but that becomes less and less true as students become older. I wonder what the true balance of male:female educators is across the kindergarten – university/ college spectrum… At workshops aimed particularly at elementary teachers, I see more females presenting. However, that doesn’t explain the predominance of male administrators in elementary schools.
I have worked in a boys school for the past 9 years. In grade 3 one major difference that I notice when comparing it to co-ed or all-female settings was how confident the boys are in their own skills (even at 8 years old!) In general, the younger boys think that they are good at everything (regardless of how much improvement others believe there could be in their skills) whereas girls tend to underestimate their skills regardless of how good they are at something. Whether or not this carries over to beyond puberty is certainly debatable but my hunch is that it does. However, I have no idea why! I do know that I am certainly guilty of making excuses or focusing on what was not perfect even when being given a compliment about something. I can’t explain it. I do hesitate about putting things out there because I am not sure what others will think about it. And when I do post things or volunteer to present I always worry that others will start to think “there she goes again…” but I have never had anyone actually give me a reason to feel this way. Is this cultural??
I do think that there is merit to the argument that more females have more home duties (or feel the need to cover the home duties) than men. However I do not have children and still and still don’t put myself right out there.
Clearly it is complicated! Back in university I took a Sociology of Sport class where our professor talked about why there might be an over-representation of one race in specific sports (pick your sport – it could go any way). He felt it was predominantly because someone was courageous enough to put themselves out there and then other people who identified with them thought “I can do that too” and began to emulate them. After a while more and more people from the similar backgrounds were involved.
I think that Jennifer’s ideas about suggesting more potential females to conference organizers and then focusing on the best person for the job are good ones to get more females to present and share publicly.
Pernille, thanks for getting us thinking and sharing!
I wonder the exact opposite about FACTS classes. Why are there so few men? As a man that cooks, cleans, and does laundry in a house full of women I would think other men were doing the same. I see male designers and male chefs. Why is there very few male teachers of these practical arts? Of course, I also see mostly male teachers in the industrial arts sides. Maybe we are slaves to our historical culture more than we would like to admit?
I have been thinking about and struggling about this on a more personal level. I actually blogged about it Friday. How do you add more without subtracting?
For me, it’s an issue of balance. I want to be a good mom, wife and educator. I want my reach as an educator to extend past the walls of my school. So, what do I let slip in order to do this.
And I agree with earlier commenters that women in general are not great at self promoting. I know I sometimes feel weird saying “I’d be good at that, let me do it.”
For great mostly female leadership I enjoy Choice Literacy. Many mentors to be had there!
Is it, perhaps, because more men are in management positions, still, even in the Education sector? I bet there are more education “managers” that are more “connected”, and therefore, more men.
But I also have to ask…why do we even want to be more “connected” digitally?
Jeff Carpenter from Elon University and I (Dan Krutka, Texas Woman’s University) conducted a study of Twitter users and while they’re underrepresented for their high numbers, they still make up a large majority of Twitter users we surveyed.
As one of the most connected females in edtech, I often hear this when at a conference I was invited to, “I had a conference and people complained too many men, then you popped on my stream.” or something like that. I meet 2 bills- Latina & female. I’ve had folks also comment that when their wives have seen me on the bill among the men they say, “Well I know why she’s presenting.” I’m flattered they think I’m good looking. I think it’s the pug, really 😉
I chose a tough field to be a consultant/presenter/trainer which is technology and education. It’s my passion, though, so there’s no going back. Many of my male comrades and co-partners are brilliant in the field and have mentored me and supported me. I truly appreciate them. They have incredible projects, etc so that isn’t to diminish what they do at all but I do believe we need more representation- country wise, gender wise, ethnicity wise, age wise (students), stakeholder wise (teachers, admin, principals, counselors, etc.). I’m happy I get to live my passion everyday and I don’t mind at all that I am hired because I am female and Latina because I believe in my abilities and tend to surprise many.
However, we need to encourage more voices. Let me put forth my own issues coming from a conference organizer standpoint. For the reason to include many voices, me and others started RSCON. I get to help curate a conference with diversity in speakers worldwide, gender wise, culturally, and age wise. This past weekend in New Jersey at Edscape I spoke with Sam Morra and other females about starting a Women’s Speakers Bureau where we mentor each other and let others know we exist. That’s one problem. Planning RSCON I found it difficult to find women to keynote. There weren’t enough who were connected and who could do it and if they were they were so incredibly busy. Bless Angela Maiers who did her keynote for RSCON after being in the hospital. I have also evaluated keynotes to make sure I am up to the standards and do an outstanding job because I never want people to think I didn’t deserve to be their consultant/trainer/presenter/keynote. I have to say as an organizer of 2 conferences, there are not a lot out there who 1. can draw enough of a crowd and yes this is important for any conference. You can’t get funding if no one shows up 2. actually are passionate, outstanding presenters. I hate to say that but if we are looking for keynotes you need Angela Maiers. This is why I want to create a Speakers Bureau for Women in which weekly we mentor each other through online platforms and give constructive feedback to make ourselves better presenters. I went through Toastmasters, debate, etc. It took me years of training to be a good speaker and also create inspiring presentations. I took courses in visual rhetoric. I also studied social media and I want to help mentor those who do not know how to present but have the passion or know and have the passion and need people that are connected to boost them out there. One reason men dominate is because I think they do this better than women. They support each other and get the word out. When I first started, my mentors were and still are men. I had tons of problems with other women in the field trying to derail me or put me down. They kept telling me I was stepping on toes. There were some like Sue Waters and Jo Hart who supported me and mentored me. I’ll forever be grateful for them. There are others now who also mentor, such as Lisa Dabbs. I think women, especially, as well as kids need someone to tell them you have a voice, an incredible idea and your voice needs to be heard. I will take the time to help you, support you, and mentor you.
Few women, if any have ever once asked me to mentor them or give them advice on how I got my position. I can name at least 10 men who asked me, though, and I helped them. In the end, I help teachers with passion. It doesn’t matter their gender, ethnicity, age, etc. I will continue to do that. However, I do think we need more unique voices with varied experiences out there to get a better picture. Maybe others would like to join me in creating this Speakers’ Bureau for Women which acts like a mentorship?
I just dropped everything to read your comment. Thank you so much for putting your honesty, your passion,and your ideas for a solution out there. while I am not at the same level as you as far as presenting, i would love to be part of a Women’s Speaker Bureau. i think this could be an incredibly tool to empower female speakers and to support one another.
I would love to be a part of a Speakers’ Bureau/mentorship. I have struggled to find a mentor – male or female.
I have been struggling with these issues as well. As a fairly new educator and definitely new to the world of speaking and presenting at conferences, I often feel lost: Am I doing the right thing? What can I do to be better? Do I even have anything worth saying? Who could I follow as a mentor? And like Aimee, I would be honored to be a part of a Speakers’ Bureau for Women/mentorship.
I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for this Shelly. I wrote a bit more further down in the comments.
Shelly, Count me in for the Speakers’ Bureau for Women. I have been looking for something like this out there. I would love to learn from you and others.
Thank you so much Pernille for another thoughtful and important post. This discussion hits home on several fronts. Personally, it has been an interesting journey entering and finding my way in the “EdTech” space.
I feel blessed to have met and work with some of the most remarkable women in the field. I am so proud of the women we have “access” to. Yet, “they/we” are the first to marginalize and even undercut our contributions.
I am not sure if it is a gender thing or a job thing (teachers are after all supposed to be humble servants). We do not toot our own horn near enough.
As Shelly said in the earlier comment; our male colleagues do a great job of supporting one another. sharing one another’s work, and most importantly recommending one another for work. We may do that quietly, but not as a whole.
Men dominate because we let them. I say that not because the men in our field are actively trying to dominate(for the most part anyway.)
We:”let them” by remaining silent about our unique talent, genius and contribution.
We let them by net stepping out of our own comfort zones.
We let them when we tear each other down rather than lift one another up.
And most importantly, we let them by not getting out of our own way.
We do not need permission to lead. We can and must fight for a legitimate place in the legacy of our universal work. Whether that be as speakers, writers, organizers, or on the ground leaders.
And in the process make a conscious effort to elevate another women along the way. I am currently mentoring several young writers, speakers, and “wish to be” consultants. It takes very little time to answer their questions, respond to their worries and offer advice and insight for their goals and dreams.. I think of how much farther I might be, if I had a female model and mentor to take me under her wings during the journey. . It makes me said to say, the the “women” in my past put forth the biggest challenges and barriers.
I too have more questions that answers.
How do we find a way to support one another without making it a “no men allowed” club?
How do we encourage the talented leaders in our community to share with confidence their gifts?
How do we actively recruit and mentor the next generation of speakers, writers, activists and leaders?
Where do we go when the journey gets rough?
Who do we call when there is something to celebrate?
How do we take the qualities that make us unique as women; our nurturing nature, our compassionate heart and not let those qualities make us seem weaker or less deserving of transformational leaders who need to be seen as fierce, convicted and bold?
Let’s keep asking questions, let’s keep writing, speaking, listening and learning together…..
The future is bright in large part because WE are in this together…..
Men derive their identity through careers. Women derive it through many other things. So men tend to try to “move up” while women do things like manufacturing children (which I’m currently doing).
I propose for speaking things. I blog. I’m forming a NPO for math ed. But I’m also doing a family thing. And sure, it’d be nice if I could speak more and connect more. But I’m sure men would relax on their drives to move up too if they could build humans inside them.
Last week was school picture day. When we gathered in the lobby to take the staff photo, I turned to my colleague and said, “Yep, that seems about right for an elementary staff. 50 women and 2 men.”
I always used to give Patrick and George a hard time for including me in #cpchat activities early on because they needed a “token” female. I know that wasn’t true, but honestly, a few years ago, there weren’t a lot of female administrative contributors to connected spaces, and I’ve seen that grow tremendously in the past few years.
In terms of keynotes and traveling and presenting and conferences, I can say my mindset and priorities have definitely changed since my son arrived. Do I feel a tad jealous knowing that the people I set out with in this connected world have propelled forward with their speaking engagements and book publishings and other professional endeavors while my time “out there” has dwindled? Yes, I get bummed about that sometimes.
But, my choice to cut back was just that- my choice. I wasn’t comfortable traveling while pregnant. I am not comfortable leaving my son overnight or for extended periods of time while he’s this young. I’ve turned down a handful of really amazing speaking opportunities because I’m not willing to spend that time away from him. I don’t blog as much as I used to, I don’t read as much as I used to, and that’s okay. Because my family has to be my world right now, and as “my world” has shifted over the past decade, it will continue to evolve and do so as our dynamics change.
If and when I’m able to get back out there and travel and present and share in face-to-face settings, I will be happy to do so. In the meantime, I’ll take advantage of the online social spaces that allow me to connect with so many fabulous educators like yourself. I loved hearing from Shel Terrell about the idea of a Speakers Bureau for Women – she and other pioneers like yourself are working so hard to help our voices be heard.
Every day it’s a privilege to learn from you and the others in our network! Thanks for all you share 🙂
Interesting timing on this post as just last week, at a session, someone asked me if Twitter was “better suited for the male-jock type” (her words, not mine). She went on to ask if the way the language is shorter and more to the point and often humourous aligned more with the way makes talk to each other. I had actually not thought I this in that way so it made me pause and reflect. I, too, have no answers but I do know that the conversations I have with males in my network are often (not always) shorter. In addition, my superintendent has mentored me in communication as when I first started, my emails were very blunt without much personalization – and SHE has been very helpful to make my communication that much softer and less rigid (I used to come across as argumentative).
Interesting discussion – thanks for making me think.
This is another one of those topics that comes up every now and again as Jen mentioned earlier. I was at the conference in NJ with Shelly and Samantha. A few days later, Eric mentioned that he was looking for ideas for the keynote next year. My first thought was “which women would make interesting presenters”. Last year Vicki Davis was keynote at Edscape. They year before, Diana Laufenberg filled in at the last minute for Chris Lehmann and she did a wonderful job. There are actually a good number of women out there and Eric has done a good job of having a nice balance.
I think the idea of a Women’s Speaker Bureau is interesting. I believe there are actually a good number of men trying to break into speaking, too, actually. Shelly mentioned all the preparation she had between Toastmasters and other courses/seminars. We could all use that type of training. I do a fair bit of presenting locally but I tend to feel more comfortable speaking about how to rather than the big picture. I personally do not tend to travel a lot and do most of my face-to-face networking when people come to New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania.
Getting involved in online spaces many years ago has given me confidence to talk to people at conferences. I think many people who are new to being a connected educator don’t have the confidence to walk up, shake a person’s hand, and share some thoughts on the session. I believe that since I don’t do a lot of overnight trips I miss out on a lot of the bonding people do at after parties and evening meetups. When the conference is local I often find myself returning home to take part in family events. Being away on a trip sort of puts you in more of a position to hang out with people from the conference. Those bonding experiences lead to others naturally recommending each other for keynotes or seminar sessions. I am sure that the more proposals a person writes, the better they get at it, and the more likely they are to be selected to present somewhere else.
There are many, many connected female educators out there. Shelly and Sam’s idea has merit. On further reflection, I really haven’t reached out to anyone to ask “how did you do it?” either. It is of the things Jack Canfield talks about in this Success Principles. Another idea is the concept of a Mastermind group to support one another. Perhaps that is really what we need, too.
I look forward to connecting with you online and learning more about you and your work. I think I found this post via someone I am friends with on Facebook. I will look you up on Twitter. Let’s see where we can take this idea!
I’ve been teaching in elementary schools now for 10 years. I’ve worked on grade levels where I was the only man, and I’ve worked in 50/50 splits before as well (I was once employed by a school that had 22 men on staff, 14 in general ed). In both cases the one thing that I noticed most that separated the men and women that I worked with was how they responded to feedback, both constructive and hurtful. The men had a tendency to let it roll off their backs. The women would take it personally, sometimes to the point of physical illness.
When you present and make yourself present on social media you naturally open yourself up to criticism and praise. The praise always seems to be welcome, but the criticism handed down can cripple some of the women I know. My wife is in the medical field and has stopped presenting altogether because of the backlash that comes from her female peers both written and oral. I even remember you having issue with this when you had be recognized for an award a while back. I think that the most present women in this field are ones who have learned to consider the source of their criticisms.
If you are having a hard time with this comparison, then I invite you to sit in the teacher’s lunchroom or a Mexican restaurant around 4:00 on a Friday after evaluations and walkthroughs have been completed.
Thank you so much for this post – I was pondering this exact question on my way to work this morning when I found your post on Twitter. I think in general men are better at self-promotion and the politics of it all.
If we feel that Twitter and blogging is about self-promotion, we are missing a huge opportunity. Share the stories of others. Share the learning of our students. We can share our ideas but balance these with the sharing of others because if it is all about self-promotion, many just disengage and move on. A big challenge for all of us to show that Social media is not about self-promotion and is about sharing stories and ideas (rather than “me”) to connect and create real change.
As a relatively young (and relatively connected) female educator who has moved into leadership roles relatively quickly, who presents at conferences, writes articles, does research, I have frequently had colleagues (both male and female) suggest that the reason I have been able to do as much as I have is because I am single, and without children. I will confess I have even been guilty of saying that myself. But the thing is this: no one would EVER say that to a male educator of similar age, and I think that is where the heart of the matter lies: women are expected to put family ahead of career, and we consider it healthy, appropriate, necessary, when women put limits on their own professional aspirations in order to be better wives/mothers/caregivers. While there are certainly men out there who make similar decisions, no one EXPECTS this of men to the same degree. The extension of this is that women’s careers are often considered “placeholders” until they marry and have children, where as men’s careers are… CAREERS. Men with professional ambition are admired. Women with professional ambition are often regarded with suspicion, EVEN IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION, which is perhaps more female-dominated than any other field. I’m not sure where we start to DO something about this, but perhaps acknowledging it (and making an effort to stop perpetuating it in the way we speak about ourselves) is a place to start…
And: YES to the speakers bureau… Keep me in the loop!
Miss Night, After reading all the comments on this blog I think you get the emphasis spot on. I personally hope to return to the level of professional involvement that I had before I started a family, but I will not sacrifice my family. I know they’ll be there for me. How many educators have worn out his or her first spouse from working so much on being a great teacher? I think many. I just hope that when my children are out of the house, I can face the age discrimination (that I have seen) and continue to grow in skill and impact within my profession.
One thought as I write this is we cannot tell ourselves that we aren’t “ready” to step into leadership. Perhaps you won’t be leading adults but there are many young women who would love to participate in a club or interest group with an adult female leader. I may not be able to teach my colleagues, but I can provide small groups of girls with an opportunity to participate without the drama of many sports teams and social events. Thanks Pernille for the forum for this discussion.
Will rephrase my tweet on Twitter I made earlier this evening. Many of us are at different places in our lives and careers. However questions that lead to reflections, change and growth are valid to consider. Is there a cultural bias, gender bias or the idea that women’s priorities are different, make us wonder, no?
I, too, am left with questions and few answers, so I’ll pose some questions here. I wondered about a couple of things as I read your post. First of all, I wonder about your phrase, “more connected”? What do you mean? Do you mean on twitter or IRL? And how are you quantifying that? Number of followers? Number of books publsihed? This point seems unclear to me, which leads me to the second point…maybe it’s where you’re focus is. The majority of educators that I follow are women…Penny Kittle, Donalyn Miller, Teri Lesesne, Kaylene Beers, Katherine Sokolowski, Kate Roberts, Maggie Roberts…and the list goes on! What I mean is this…I’m on twitter and I feel very connected. Could it be that what we see is what we are looking for and not what’s actually out there? And one answer I do have for me…being connected isn’t about numbers, it’s about developing relationships and meaningful connections. Just offering a differing opinion.
Great questions, by more connected I meant (as stated in the post here) “but when we look at who is “more” connected whether you measure that as extra projects done, books written, presentations done, more followers, or even keynote speakers.” And I think the lens is important, many of the people you mentioned are highly connected due to literacy, the minute you movie into a math, science, tech lens the number of prominent women in the spotlight dwindles. And no, number of followers has little to do with being very connected but it is one mor efacet of the connectedness.
For myself, I can attest that I am too busy tending to the daily chores of bring a thorough classroom teacher, and I don’t allow myself to use planning-instructing -& assessment time in order to connect, write blogs & musings, let along work on the four books I have drafted…because there are always papers to grades, parent-tchr conferences to document, forms to fill out, lesson plans to document, extra curricular activities to attend, required forms &’reports to complete, countless meetings to attend, planing periods preempted by “emergencies,” etc., etc. – being an organized, self-contained elementary classroom teacher with nine daily lesson preps and four new curriculums this year alone inhales all my time. I don’t even have a balanced personal life, and often find myself working 60-80 hrs a week just to keep afloat. PD, reflections, writing, & staying connected involve leaving daily tasks unfinished….I sadly always say, “I’ll write that blog when…” “I can’t join in that chat tonight until I finish…” When I read others’ blogs, books, or attend conferences, I always think, “I’m just as good, creative, connected, insightful…” But I am a slave to the book bag, and all that clamorous inside of it for me to finish…being creative comes at a cost to community and collegial expectations. Hence, being a connected and proactively creative educator in social media remains an elusive dream….so sad to say!
I find that most elementary principals are women but you’re right that elem. Ed is dominated by females. This is partly because women are mistakenly seen as the only ones who are better with young children. It is not a good thing. Men in elem. Ed are told that they need to move up or transition out of elem. Ed to be taken seriously. I have been told this by more than one source. I would rather stay. So maybe the pressure being more on the male than the female to do this causes some of the unbalanced gender in elementary education.
Wow, with all the grammar mistakes in my last post no wonder I’m not connected. I do have a question though.
First some information. I live in a town with two large universities both with about 30k students each. Schools in our area hire mostly young women who are straight out of university. Mostly, from what I’m told on the side, because their husbands are still in college working on an advanced degree and will graduate so the wife can then have babies. At this point the school can start the process over with a new young female thus saving a good amount of money.
Have any of you run across this behavior in any other school districts?