By Charlotte Suttee
It seems to be that time of year when the United States pays extra special attention to the accomplishments of women in our country, for March has been legally deemed Women’s History Month since congress passed Public Law 100-9 in 1987. Organizations and leaders place a lot of importance on encouraging women’s career opportunities, so the Jenks Trojan Torch talked with three teachers/administrators at Jenks about women’s careers and dug deeper into people’s expectations for females.
According to national polls and publications like NPR, women are underrepresented in politics around the world, and the careers that need more women are clear (see Bureau of Labor Statistics graph).
“More women elected to office would give greater opportunity for different life experiences and perspectives on a variety of situations, topics, and issues to be shared and considered,” says superintendent Stacey Butterfield in a 2017 interview with the Torch. “There would also be a greater likelihood that the views of women would be given greater consideration if more women were part of the conversation and decision making.”
The good news is that there are more women in power every year, but that doesn’t mean females not pursuing politics aren’t doing the right thing. There are other ways to be a strong female leader that don’t include running for political office.
“[Achieving gender equality] is not so much placing women in power and more about reevaluating gender roles as they exist in society,” says Pre-AP English teacher Sydnie Ritze, “and getting away from roles based on gender.”
Ritze is a mother, a wife, and a teacher. She says she’s faced criticism from those who say that she isn’t breaking down barriers for women because she isn’t breaking out of traditional female roles in society.
“I partake in all of those things that are typically bound up with those roles as well, but not because I have to,” she says.
Ritze has a beautiful 7-month old boy named James, and she wants to cultivate his attitude about women by example.
“I like the narrative in the household as ‘my mom gets up and goes to work because that’s something she’s passionate about. She has more identifiers than just Mom.’ I want to be the woman who ‘has it all.’”
Ellen Vannoy works as an administrator in building six (and has a minor in women’s’ studies) and she is also a mother who wants to lead by example.
“I hope that if I carry myself as a strong female then someday that’s what my sons will be attracted to,” she says. “I hope that the person that either of them find to be their partner in life walks beside of them and not behind them.”
According in history.com, “Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society.” But we can take more from observing this national recognition according to Jenks staff: we can encourage women to seek more powerful positions AND we can encourage women where they are and where they want to be. Because securing gender equality is absolving stereotypes; it’s allowing people to be whoever they want to be.
Also, here is a very cool timeline of women milestones in US history to see how far they have come: https://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/facts/milestones-for-women