Inspiring Women Leaders in New Jersey's Schools
Women have made great strides professionally in many roles. In New Jersey, they dominate the business world. However, it’s not quite the same in New Jersey’s public schools. If you’re looking at the position of superintendent, more likely than not you’ll find a man at the helm.
While New Jersey has an average of 33% percent of Chief Education Officer roles filled by women – ahead of the national average of 24% – we are still actively looking to increase these ranks.
I recently sat down with NJASA Secretary Dr. Margaret Dolan, Chief Education Officer, Westfield Public School System; and NJASA Director of Special Projects Judith Rattner, former 2016 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year. Both are active members of the NJASA Women’s Leadership Group, which encourages and supports women leaders and women aspiring to become leaders. To hear the complete podcast, click Women’s Leadership Leading the Way.
Women Mentors Inspire Women Leaders
Mentors are key to encourage young female administrators, according to both women. Ms. Rattner had an opportunity to mentor nationally as part of the “More Than a Power Lunch” initiative through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AASA. “We looked at factors that impacted women in leadership roles, and provided face-to-face mentoring through Skype,” she said. “We need to inspire people to serve as mentors and work with people whom we see are effective leaders and sponsor them in new roles.”
The NJASA Women’s Leadership Group is key, according to Dr. Dolan. “We now have representation all over the state, with individuals who have started initiatives in their own county or region.”
Dr. Dolan worked with her fellow chief education officers to create a local event in Union County. “We decided on a half-day in a central place, which wouldn’t cost a lot,” she explained. “We also didn’t limit it to superintendents or principals. We invited teachers.” Despite a massive snowstorm that first year, the conference was a success. Teachers who participated approached the organizers, saying they were inspired to become administrators.
Mark Your Calendar: 2 Conferences in March
This year, the organizers are expanding their reach. The annual Women’s Leadership Conference will take place on March 14-15, 2019 at The Palace at Somerset Park, in Somerset, NJ. Inspiring speakers, who will chronicle their journey as women in all industries, will share their expertise. Check out the agenda and register today.
On the state level, NJASA is proud to host the Annual Regional Women’s Educational Leadership Forum and Luncheon, March 1, 2019 – 12 noon-4 p.m. at The Westwood, 438 North Ave Garwood, NJ. Three keynote speakers will inform and inspire. Click here to view the agenda.
Get Involved at the Local, Regional and State Levels
I encourage women in New Jersey’s school districts to join in these initiatives. To see more featured events for women leaders and to learn more about the NJASA Women’s Leadership Group, click here.
We’re all working to promote gender, race and ethnic equity within New Jersey’s schools. As positions open up for chief education officers, we hope to have plenty of women leaders poised to fill those roles.