Women in Educational Administration and The Glass Ceiling Essay

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Women in Educational Administration and The Glass Ceiling

Several people at the conference dealt with the problems women encounter in getting into administrative positions in schools and colleges and when they do, the obstacles they encounter in making their jobs successful. Their discussions brought home to me the reality of my own mother's experience. As children we witnessed our mother struggling, summer after summer and during many school years in the evenings, with those courses required for an administrative license. The state gave her that license some twelve years ago, but she is still teaching mathematics in high school. We used to tease her when we were growing up calling her "principal mom" and "assistant principal mom"
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So I interviewed more than 25 people from Superintendents and Principals through Vice Principals, Department Heads, Counselors, Teachers and Teachers' Assistants to Security, Cafeteria and Maintenance Personnel, in two different school systems. My findings were quite revealing of the invisible glass ceiling. Let me start with the lowest level positions in the school systems—maintenance workers, security personnel and cafeteria workers. Strictly speaking, they cannot be called part of the education system. Their jobs do not have anything to do with the educational system, they could be in any other place than the school, but the way the heads of their departments are chosen will show how endemic gender discrimination is to the entire school systems, from bottom to top. In fact, it is ingrained in the culture of the school systems as it is in the culture of many other organizations in the public life. My innocent ears were offended hearing the tale of a woman security officer describe what was going on in the South Bend School Corporation at her level of employment. She has much more seniority than most of the chiefs of security in the school system, but the chief's position along with all the benefits go to the men who, in her judgement, were less qualified, experienced and conscientious. She pointed out to her own chief, a pot-bellied man who sat by a closet and snacked all day, according to reports, which could not be far from
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