I am a proud educator of girls and young women and believe wholeheartedly in the need to educate them to be confident, authentic and courageous as they travel on whatever path they choose. Our mission at St. Clement’s informs our practice and we are proud of it.
I struggle, however, with the tension between an experience at our School, where we afford girls a vast variety of opportunities such that they believe they are able to access whatever it is they wish, and the reported realities of the working world. In Canada, the female to male average income ratio is 73 cents to the dollar and there are often significant penalties for women who opt out of work to raise children.
This was highlighted for me in an article in The Globe and Mail this weekend. While I believe there are huge issues with respect to gender bias, I also appreciated the perspective from Mary Turan, a consultant quoted in the article, who says that the situation is less about a women’s or men’s issue but that it is “a workplace and societal issue.”
In my mind this is an important delineation because I believe strongly that equity issues need not- and should not- be addressed solely by those affected, but by everyone who can effect change. If we ever hope to bridge gaps, change opportunity access, and pave the way to gender equity, it must be a priority for all- and organizations must model and defend this.
Our girls and young women must continue to know that they are capable of carving out their own paths, but they should also be confident that there will be, at the very least, equitable treatment and support from all organizations and in all situations as they do so.