Addressing Gender Inequality

As an education leader, I address gender inequality by valuing the diverse backgrounds and talents of all of the people I lead. In my current role, I strive to model balance in work and family; for instance, I do not expect team members to respond to emails outside of work hours. This summer, I will serve as summer school principal. As I hire staff, I look to find teachers and staff that represent our community with regard to gender, age, school where they teach during the school year, race, and ethnicity. I believe valuing diversity is key to appreciating the strengths of individuals and the contributions they make to the team.

In terms of policy, I think President’s Biden proposed twelve weeks of paid family leave could level the playing field in terms of gender equality in the workplace. This could close the pay gap women experience when they take time off after having a child. Currently, my school division allows women to use up to six weeks of sick time as paid maternity leave. The remainder of the twelve weeks they can take for Family and Medical Leave is unpaid. I think the proposed paid leave is a realistic way to move family leave forward in the twenty-first century, particularly when younger adults face student loans and other financial stressors that previous generations did not experience on a large scale when starting a family.

While FMLA was a big step forward in recognizing the balance individuals must strike between career and family life, this should not be a stopping point. As leaders, we must support all employees, regardless of gender, when they need to serve as caretakers for their families. There should not be stigma when men defy gender stereotypes and take on these roles. At the same time, leaders must advocate for changes in our organizations and in larger society, such as paid time for family leave.

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