LeadershippersonalProfessional Experiences

Why I don’t subscribe to gender roles

I recently concluded a four-month log blogging series focused on student-driven learning. As I was brainstorming about what to write about today, I was struck by two different ideas. As I was thinking through them both, I came across this short article on strong women and it solidified my direction.

I’ve referred to myself a couple of times as an “old-fashioned feminist”. By that, I mean that I am a strong, independent woman who goes after what I want but still appreciate having a door held open for me. It’s not because I can’t open the door for myself, but I recognize the respect and manners that go into that gesture and appreciate it in a world that too often has a “me first” mentality. I fly often for work and I can’t tell you the number of times men push in front of me to get in line for boarding the plane. It’s rude, and a bit ridiculous when we all have a seat waiting for us. In the same way, however, I hold doors for other people (men and women alike) and often let people go ahead of me when boarding a plane. It’s not so much about gender, as it is about showing kindness.

My husband has been a full-time grad student for the past two years. We’ve both had our share of comments about that but he has been nothing but grateful for the opportunity to pursue his passion while I support our family. I’m thankful that I have a job that allows it to happen. A few of my best friends are stay-at-home moms. I’m happy for them that they are able to do that since it’s what they choose to do. A couple of weeks ago, one of them said, “Do you think when Ben gets a new job that you might not have to work so much? Maybe you could work part-time?” I was a bit taken aback by that comment. I work full time because I love what I do. I believe in what I do and the impact I’m making on education. I will continue working full time regardless of what my husband does. This quote from the article I linked at the top describing a characteristic of strong women speaks to my heart and explains a bit of why I pursued the career path that I have, “They love to learn new skills, study new information, form new ideas, and be the best person that they possibly can be.” I live in a small town in the Midwest. Full-time working mothers are common, but maybe not always understood. I love my children and I love my work. It’s possible to do both.

I have been a classroom teacher, a district administrator, and for the past four years, I have been a full-time educational consultant. All of these positions require dedication and focus. I continue to find mostly men in educational leadership positions. I also have a sixteen-year-old daughter and a twelve-year-old son. I’m showing them how to fight stereotypes and to go after what you want. My daughter is going to present at a couple of conferences with me this summer. My son thinks I’m famous (no matter how much I deny it). They are both proud of me for the work I do, but my role as their mom trumps my career in their eyes – as it should. It’s not always easy to balance, but it is always worth the effort.