Pope Francis recently declared that a woman would never serve as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. This is not a change in stance; he has always said the door was closed on women being ordained as priests. But when pressed about the matter by a journalist during a press conference on the papal plane, Francis intimidated that the ban would be eternal because Jesus only chose men as his apostles. This reminds me of the stance the Director and the Trustees of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (KPRDSB) have taken. When asked if KPRDSB had any plans to change its current policy (which allows for gender imbalanced teams at the superintendent level), the Director responded, "No, there are no plans to change our policy."
I want to live in a truly inclusive world and I believe educational institutions have the ethical and moral obligation to do everything in their power to help society realize this dream. It's not acceptable that the Director and the Trustees are ignoring this issue.
Jimmy Carter “lost his religion” for equality in 2013. In his open letter (which was viewed more than 1.9 million times), he said the belief that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to Christianity, and its influence doesn’t stop at the walls of the synagogue, church, mosque, or temple. He also said it’s not women and girls alone who suffer. These attitudes damage all of us.
The Canadian Employment Equity Act requires employers in federally-regulated industries to give preferential treatment to women, people with disabilities, aboriginal people, and visible minorities. However, there are no such laws in Ontario, and corporations, political organizations, businesses and school boards are allowed to hire and promote whoever they'd like. It's okay in the eyes of the law that predominantly female organizations such as ours are led by predominantly male leadership teams. Go figure. But male leaders have had, and still have, an option to interpret holy teachings or to hire in a way that either exalts or subjugates women. Look at the way Justin Trudeau deliberately hired his gender-balanced cabinet for a beautiful example of exaltation. It’s wonderful when men like Jimmy Carter and Justin Trudeau choose to exalt women, and it's extremely damaging when Directors and Trustees of education don't.
Dr. Elizabeth Debold is a developmental psychologist and founding member of the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development. She says traditionally, the role of women has been to ensure the propagation of the species but sometimes women have to make conscious choices to bring in something new. (Women supported the birth of Christianity and Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation in 1517. They spoke out in the early nineteenth century to fight against slavery and their own second-class status.) Debold says when women speak out, it brings about giant shifts in our culture.
If we want the Director and the Trustees to consciously and deliberately help eliminate gender discrimination by choosing to hire a gender balanced senior leadership team, then we need to speak out.
If we do not confront damaging habits of the past, we'll never liberate our daughters, our sons, or our grandchildren from damaging habits in the future, and we'll never live in a truly inclusive world.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right. It’s a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
Gender equality doesn't happen by chance.
Gender equality doesn't happen automatically, either.
And gender equality will never happen unless we speak out.
Please show your support for more female superintendents in KPRDSB by emailing your local Trustee expressing your concern with the current gender imbalance. Then encourage your colleagues to do the same.
Debbie on behalf of the Leadership Team at KPRDSB
Debbie Kasman is currently an International Educational Consultant. She is a former Student Achievement Officer with the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat at the Ministry of Education. She also worked as an Acting Interim Superintendent and was responsible for Teaching and Learning at the KPRDSB.