Promoting a Gender-Inclusive Hiring Process

By members of the Carney, Sandoe & Associates International Schools Practice


At Carney, Sandoe & Associates, we are aware of the role that search agencies play in shaping the overall make-up of school leadership, both within individual schools and across the collective community of schools. In short, we know that who we identify and promote as strong candidates who meet a school’s particular needs matters a great deal.


Given the longstanding gender inequities in school leadership — the bias toward white menhat still holds today — we are committed to identifying and promoting diverse groups of highly qualified candidates for every school leadership position. We also see it as our job to educate all school search committees and governing boards about the qualities a range of candidates bring to the job and about the overall value of diverse leadership within and among schools. At the same time, we understand that it’s essential to focus energy on expanding the pool and pipeline of candidates for these positions in the future. This tripartite process is at the core of every search we conduct.


Recently, it has come to our attention that in the world of international schools — a vibrant, fast-growing area of K-12 education — the percentage of women heads and other top leaders has been particularly low. According to data from the Academy for International School Leadership (AISH), women heads of international schools have only improved slightly — increasing from 27% to 33% over the past ten years. While it’s good to see improvement, we submit that this percentage of growth is unacceptable, especially in a profession with so many extremely talented, highly competent women.


Our Focus on Gender Equity

For every search, the members of our International Schools Practice build a database of candidates and analyze it to ensure that we are interviewing for equitable access to leadership roles. Many times, this means we seek out and nurture talent, offering to review résumés and cover letters in advance, and holding one-on-one coaching sessions.


Separate from retained searches, we uphold our commitment to supporting women in education by hosting our annual Women’s (Re)Institute. First held in person in 2017 and now having completed its second virtual iteration, the (Re)Institute draws hundreds of women together to engage in workshops, one-on-one career advising, cohort groups, panel presentations, and keynotes related to female empowerment, skill building, and overcoming the unique challenges women face working in education. The event includes a range of sessions designed to help women educators develop their skills, make connections, and understand their leadership options and possibilities. Among the sessions this year, for example, were: “A Woman’s Worth: The Art of Negotiation;” “Living with Imposter Syndrome and Biased Workplaces;” “More than Conversations: A Feminist Approach to Equity Work in International Schools;” “Women, EQ, and Leadership;” and “Huddle (verb): To Gather Your Sister Circle.”


Given the low numbers of women leaders in international schools, this year’s (Re)Institute also included a topic we consider of utmost importance: “Ever Consider Leading an International School?” which was led by CS&A consultants Deb Welch and Karen Neitzel and included presenters Robin Appleby, Head of School at American School in London; Madeleine Hewitt, Executive Director of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools; and Nancy Le Nezet, Head of School at the Swiss International School in Qatar.


Additionally, Carney Sandoe offers implicit and cognitive bias training for search committees at no extra charge. Our consultants work internally with the Carney Sandoe staff as well, helping us to recognize ways our own identities, cultural perspectives, and biases that may be unconsciously serving as blind spots in our work. To further our organizational commitment to antibias work, Carney Sandoe is also covering the cost this summer for consultants to attend (diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) professional development of their choice.


We are engaged in this work across the board because we know it’s the right thing to do and because we know diverse leadership teams in schools function at a higher level that monocultural groups and, thus, serve the faculty, staff, and students best. Research makes it clear, for instance, that diverse teams focus more on facts, process those facts more carefully, and are more innovative (Rock and Grant, HBR, Why Diverse Teams are Smarter). The bottom line is that, by committing to helping create diverse leadership teams, we are not just committing to equity and justice, we are also helping to create better decision-making in school leadership teams, boardrooms, and classrooms.


Toward the aim of an equitable gender balance in school leadership, we’re proud of our record of recent appointments of women to senior administrative and leadership positions. Of those recent placements, 70% of them have occurred since 2018.


Female Appointments from Recent International School Searches



President, 2022


Primary School Principal, 2021


Superintendent, 2018


Director, 2019


Director, 2020


Executive Head of School, 2022


Interim Head of School, 2016


Head of School, 2018


Head of School, 2017

Director of Institutional Equity, 2021


Head of School, 2020


High School Principal, 2018


Executive Director, 2017


Head of School, 2018


Head of School, 2019


Chief Inspection Officer, 2021

Vice Head of Primary, 2021


Head of Upper School, 2016


Director of College Counseling, 2015


Upper School Head, 2021


Head of School, 2021


Deputy Superintendent, 2014

Middle School Principal, 2014

Elementary School Principal, 2020

Deputy Head of School, 2016


Principal, 2018


Superintendent, 2007

Head of School, 2021


Founding Head, 2022


Executive Director, 2013


Middle School Principal, 2019


Director, 2020


General Director, 2017


Montessori Director, 2019


Head of School, 2019


Head of School, 2018


Middle School Principal, 2019


Middle School Principal, 2017


Director, 2019


Director, 2019


An Invitation

At Carney Sandoe, we will continue to highlight the value of diversity in school leadership and promote diversity in the hiring process. In particular, we are dedicated to finding new ways to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups. In this light, we are constantly encouraging talented candidates to apply for positions of interest, even if they believe it may be a bit of a “stretch.” We also help such candidates establish a connection with a search consultant who can advise them on their suitability for different positions and encourage them to test the waters. Meanwhile, we advise search committees that no candidate will check all the boxes of the desired profile, but that we are adept at identifying areas in which a candidate will be an excellent match for a school. We also advise candidates to work with a variety of search firms, since no single firm does all the searches.


For educators aspiring to leadership positions in international schools, this is a particularly good time to be looking. The number of international schools continues to grow at a remarkable rate and all of these schools are searching for administrators (and teachers) who are native English speakers. For those educators who are our candidates, we encourage you to let search committees know where your strengths and interests lie — so we can better align these strengths and interests with the needs of schools. Mostly, though, we encourage educators aspiring to school leadership to step up, cast your net wide, and believe in yourself. We know from experience that the right position will come.



This article was contributed by Art Charles, John Chandler, Karen Neitzel, and Deb Welch of the International Schools Practice.


As Managing Associate for the International School Practice, Art Charles has done more than 140 senior administrative searches, both in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to coming to CS&A, Art worked in five international schools, most recently as President of International College in Beirut, Lebanon. He also worked as an administrator and teacher at the American College of Sofia, Academia Cotopaxi (Ecuador), The American School in Switzerland, and the American Embassy School (India).




John Chandler is a senior consultant. The majority of his work has been in leadership searches for international schools. He has also led searches for U.S. independent schools and has consulted on governance. He has completed more than 120 searches. After several teaching and admissions roles, John served as Head of School at Pingree School (MA) for 14 years before becoming General Director of the Koç School in Istanbul, Turkey. Following Koç, he served as Head of School of Robert College, the oldest American school outside the U.S., also in Istanbul, for seven years.




Karen Neitzel is a search consultant for the firm’s Head of School, Key Administrator, International Schools, and Catholic Schools Practices. Karen joined CS&A from ‘Iolani School (HI), first serving as Dean of Studies before becoming Associate Head of School. Prior to ‘Iolani, Karen held several leadership roles in the Hood River County School District (OR), including Vice Principal and Principal. She also worked at The Archer School for Girls (CA), where she served as Assistant Head of School, Academic Dean, and Director of Technology.




Deb Welch is a senior consultant for the International Schools Practice. For five years, Deb served as CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH), a leading organization among international schools. Her experience working in independent schools is deep and varied. She was the Director of American School of Doha in Qatar, as well as Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Professional Development; then Deputy Head of School at International School Bangkok. She also has significant consulting experience, having worked as an independent consultant for various international schools and organizations.

Moonshot Thinking from the Sidecar


Debra Lane, Ed.D., CEO, Lane Leadership Group


I participated in an adventurous Sidecar Summit in Red Lodge, Montana sponsored by Sidecar Counsel. Fourteen international women leaders gathered at The Pollard Hotel to do some Moonshot Thinking on July 7 with Lakshmi Karan, Co-Founder of Future Frontiers Institute, and Bridget McNamer, Chief Navigation Officer of Sidecar Counsel.

Photo credit: Brian Korzenowski

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, ‘moonshot’ actually means a type of thinking that aims to achieve something that is generally believed to be impossible. Moonshot or stretch goals are goals that seem impossible to achieve. They should force teams and individuals to rethink how they work and take you out of your comfort zone. In the literal sense, President John F. Kennedy invented moonshot thinking in 1962 when he challenged an entire nation to set an incredibly audacious goal of sending man to the moon in fewer than 10 years…50 years later, Astro Teller has taken this discourse and transformed it into a philosophy, a certain mindset. Teller is the Director of X (formerly Google X), Google’s disruptive innovation division where they ideate, test and launch projects that use cutting-edge technologies to build solutions that can radically improve the world. Literally a Moonshots factory.


Lakshmi shared her vision and task. She reminded us how space travel was about to take off and asked us to think of the galaxy and what this means by 2121. She said, “We are in the midst of a new space race. Driven by political and economic incentives, with a focus on settling on the moon. We want to see a learning institute first before a military base. We want an advisory composed of humans (Monks, Scientists, Teachers, Students, Nurses, Data Scientists and many more humans). Her task is to help create the ecosystem that will enable us to explore and stay in a sustainable, equitable and responsible way.


As women leaders in education, we started to brainstorm ways to embark on this journey. How will success be measured by our own values and what is the process to get there? Who sets the rules and who is accountable? How will this learning benefit us back on Earth? Bridget and Lakshmi asked us to take this moonshot thinking back to our present roles and do the following:


Identify a huge problem that affects the entire organisation.

Most of us identified the issue of a need for more gender equity and women of colour in leadership positions. According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 study, for the sixth year in a row, women continued to fall behind in moving into first-level management positions. According to the study, for every 100 men promoted into a managerial position, only 85 women were promoted—and this gap was even larger for women of colour.


Identify a big, bold, seemingly impossible goal.

In the case of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), consider taking broad aim at diversity (for example, “We will achieve gender and racial parity at all levels of the organization, including our board of directors, by 2030.”). Your colleagues may jump to why this cannot be done at all levels or within the timeframe, but this is not the point. Moonshots are not designed as feasible goals; the point is to push the collective mindset beyond the gravitational pull of small incremental changes.


Craft breakthrough new approaches to tackle the challenge.

When it comes to driving increased diversity, it is imperative to start with data. Invest in a thorough collection and analysis of everything impacting representation, including recruiting sources, hiring processes, and promotion practices. Enact sweeping changes to talent acquisition, sponsorship, and performance review practices to include a much more diverse talent pool from which to draw. There are countless examples: Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos or Virgin Galactic in the space world; JUST or Impossible Foods in the gastronomy universe (trying to eliminate animal suffering) or cell-based chocolates; these are just a few examples of creating breakthrough approaches.


As we finished our morning with Lakshmi Karan and Bridget McNamer I had a number of ideas fleshed out on how I would like to push some big, bold goals and craft some breakthrough approaches to tackling those challenges. What are some of your moonshot thoughts going into the 2021-2022 school year?


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Debra Lane, Ed.D.

Dr. Debra Lane has been an educator for more than 25 years as a teacher and administrator in the U.S. and abroad. She has led several schools as principal, including most recently at Shanghai American School. She taught grades from pre-K through middle school, as well as ESOL, Literacy, and Gifted and Talented classes. Currently, she is working on federal grants focusing on transformative leadership and increasing teacher’s leadership and instructional roles across the U.S., Central and South America. She is also the founder of the educational consulting firm, Lane Leadership Group, LLC.

Differences That Make A Difference: Stories & Strategies To Inspire Women Leaders


Debra Lane, Ed.D., Jolene Lockwood, Ann Marie Luce, Ed.D., Bridget McNamer, Francesca Mulazzi, Ed.D., Lindsay Prendergast


If you aren’t aware of the gender imbalance in education leadership, especially in international schools, it’s possible you’ve been living under a rock. And it may be a rock worth a long visit and careful study if it’s one where gender imbalance isn’t a thing.  The rest of us will have so much to learn from that!  Because what the women leaders contributing to this article can tell you from experience is that leading as a female in an international school is an adventure, sometimes of the very best kind, but too often of the unnecessarily challenging and depleting kind.

We are all well aware that leading in an international school is demanding, gender notwithstanding.  Then there’s the reality that the leadership post and pathway was created with a white male prototype in mind – a white male with no real personal life and no family responsibilities at home.  Women traversing the landscape either find themselves trying to follow the prototype pathway or figuring out workarounds… or trying to forge a new pathway based on their lived experiences and inherent attributes.

This article’s contributors are experienced women leaders who are frustrated with the traditional leadership pathway and have come up with visions, strategies and tips for moving more women into the leadership ranks of international schools.  We came together as one of the Sidecar Rally cohorts of women leaders brought together by Sidecar Counsel, a coaching and consulting practice dedicated to elevating women leaders in international schools.  We learned so much from each other about how to navigate the obstacle course that is the leadership path for women that we decided to promote our learnings more broadly.  We think this will make things better for everyone, males included.     — Bridget McNamer


Overcoming Fear of Failure
Dr. Debra Lane


The reason women are afraid to fail is that no one walks around celebrating their failures. Failure is invisible. All you see on resumes and social media are people’s success. Publicly admitting defeat is such a novel concept that when Princeton University Professor Johannes Haushofer created a resume of his failures (, it went viral. Big failures mean you had courage. Make a list of your failures and see how impressive they are compared to your successes. Courage comes from a place deep inside, where fear loses a battle against faith: faith in oneself and faith in the possibilities.  Without this adherence to the knowledge that the outcome is more rewarding than the fear, there would never be any reason to take risks.  And women, who so often strive for perfection, who limit themselves for fear of not meeting up to the standard, for appearing weak, for not getting it right, will all too often convince themselves that the risk is not worth taking.  Leadership appears in women who model courage.  Gloria Steinem has said “being brave is not being unafraid, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway…  When you feel fear, try using it as a signal that something really important is about to happen.”  [AR1]

The women in international schools have taken huge risks:  moving to new countries, establishing boundaries, stepping outside of their comfort zone, defying limits that have been externally imposed. They have challenged the norm, the status quo, traditional gender roles.   They have continued to challenge themselves professionally while raising children. Courage involves a willingness to fail, and an inherent understanding that failure is really gain disguised as loss.


Balanced and Wholehearted Leadership
Jolene Lockwood


Leaders are explorers, pioneers, and adventurers, bravely putting one foot in front of the other to lead courageously even when we may not have all the answers and especially given uncertain and challenging times. Leading requires us to empower teams to think flexibly, with benevolence and curiosity to break free of anxiety and static thinking. There are a number of ways that we can make this happen using three leadership superpowers.


Cultivate Curiosity

To be courageous requires us to be vulnerable, open, and curious. The research of Dr. Brené Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. This does not mean we need to disclose details about what the struggles are; it just means that we need to be honest about it. It might sound like, “We have a lot on our plates right now…” or “Wow, I’m struggling today, and I’ll do the best I can. So we need to focus on…” It is acknowledging that something exists, but not rambling on about it.


Be Self-Aware

This is the notion of, “What are we paying attention to and why”? What do I observe, measure, and learn? How will this inform my decisions?” Self-awareness is about identifying what the stories we make up are and fact-checking them. The brain will make up a story about what is happening when we don’t have all the facts. This is why it is important to check ourselves and our stories before we wreck ourselves with assumptions. Combat this by engaging in a data search. Who might I need to check in with to validate or dispel my assumptions?


Be Benevolent and Empathetic

When we listen in with curiosity, without interruption or judgement, we strengthen our connections with others. Empathy is the antidote to anxiety. Listening in with empathy and understanding requires non-judgment, perspective-taking, and honoring the other’s story as their truth. And when we respond, we do so without providing sympathy or solutions.

Practicing and integrating these skills is not easy. It requires persistence, being imperfect, messing it up, and circling back to try to get it right the next time. The result can be tremendously empowering for oneself, and deeply impactful on the communities we lead.



Mindful Leadership: A Learning Journey
Dr. Francesca Mulazzi


When I was a teacher and an aspiring principal, I worked for two different middle school principals who each consistently demonstrated cool in a fast-paced school environment.

However, once I got my first job as an international school principal, I felt exhaustion and disorientation. I was overwhelmed from dawn to dusk. There were decisions to make, teachers who deserved my time and attention, families in crisis, and the long hours of working at a job that I loved.


I asked myself, “How did my mentors maintain calm in the storms of the principalship?” If I want to be effective and ultimately meet the needs of students, I need to do better. My learning became purposeful: observe, ask questions, research, learn, practice, repeat.


So began my research and learning. I dove into mindfulness, meditation, and mindful leadership. I completed a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course, sat a Vipassana retreat, and developed a regular meditation practice. I attended a Mindful Leadership Summit and learned from internationally renowned experts about emotions and mindfulness in the workplace.


I entered a doctoral program with a burning wondering: how do I maintain equanimity while leading through a storm? I developed a study that measured stress and burnout in international school principals, tying it to the coping strategies they employed. I learned that Mindfulness constructs are behaviors that I can develop and sharpen. I am applying what I have learned in my role as a school leader in Washington. When I feel overwhelmed, I name it. If a frustrated teacher comes to me, I listen. I practice being present. I pause when my heart is beating too fast. I take breaths. Years of reading, research, learning, and practicing has brought me to the point where I am now, a mindful school leader (on most days!).



Leadership May Be Lonely, But You Are Not Alone: Building Networks, Opening Doors
Lindsay Prendergast 


There is an (incorrect) assumption that developing professional connections is a self-serving endeavor solely to close business deals or gain access to “inner circles”. Rather, building a diverse network of colleagues has far greater benefits. For women, who may be the minority on a team, networks provide support and also professional guidance for the otherwise isolating work at hand. Sharing experiences can mitigate the perception you are the source of issues being faced, when it may in fact be the imbalanced work environment. Together, we learn we are not alone. Connecting our talents may catalyze everyone’s success towards unimagined destinations, and our collective voices carry further and reach more ears.


Where do we build such networks? Anywhere women leaders gather! Twitter and LinkedIn are not only for hearing others personal accomplishments. See a woman leader’s work you admire? Tell her in a direct message! Participate in Twitter chats and you may find common interests or roles and open a conversation. Read an interesting article? Contact her. Ask about her work, perhaps suggest a future collaboration. If initiating a conversation with strangers sounds daunting, attend webinars or conferences. Discussions in breakout rooms or at a session table can carry into a contact exchange, building a PLN (Professional Learning Network).


You may hear of the merit of mentors in building your career, yet a sponsor may influence your growth in far more direct ways. Sponsors directly make referrals and open doors to meet their own contacts, a practice men have been applying for centuries. Are there women leaders in your network who could qualify as a sponsor? Perhaps they only need you to let them know your aspirations and they can offer strategic support. Whether the result is a new professional opportunity or a learning experience, your network has just expanded that much more.



A Gender-Inclusive Evaluation Framework for School Leaders
Dr. Ann Marie Luce


When examining how leadership is evaluated, research reveals that traditional leadership is defined in masculine terms. Women often receive less favorable evaluations because of this bias towards male-dominated performance expectations. Male leaders are charismatic, assertive, competitive, agentic, and visionary. When women take on these same characteristics as their male counterparts, they are often perceived as harsh, abrasive, and overconfident, often leading to the dreaded ‘B@&#$’ label. Gender stereotypes also apply to men. When men take on more typically feminine leadership styles, which involve collaboration, community, and relational skills, they are valued less than other male colleagues. Leadership stereotypes based on gender do not serve men or women.


What if we reimagined a new evaluation framework for school leaders based on capacities and resources? The Ontario Leadership Framework identifies five core capacities and three personal leadership resources that can serve as a self, peer, or system evaluation tool for school leaders. The five core capacities are goal-setting, aligning resources with priorities, promoting collaborative learning cultures, engaging in courageous conversations, and using data. Leaders use their personal leadership resources: cognitive, social, and psychological to build and develop these capacities to move the learning and teaching forward at both the school and system level. This framework can coach, assess, evaluate, and support the growth of all leaders and help us to reimagine a world of leadership without gender bias.



Strength in Numbers
Bridget McNamer


The path ahead isn’t easy.  In addition to addressing the systemic barriers at play that hold women back, we’ve got work to do to nurture the courage and ‘tool kits’ of women leaders so they can create more space for themselves in this landscape.  The stories, strategies and tips described by the authors of this article can be key elements of this tool kit.  And the company and support of others along this path will help us be even more effective.


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to have your thoughts below.





Debra Lane, Ed.D.

Dr. Debra Lane has been an educator for more than 25 years as a teacher and administrator in the U.S. and abroad. She has led several schools as principal, including most recently at Shanghai American School. She taught grades from pre-K through middle school, as well as ESOL, Literacy, and Gifted and Talented classes. Currently she is working on federal grants focusing on transformative leadership and increasing teacher’s leadership and instructional roles across the U.S., Central and South America. She is also the founder of the educational consultant firm, Lane Leadership Group, LLC.


Francesca Mulazzi, Ed.D.

Dr. Francesca Mulazzi has been an educator for two decades as a teacher and administrator in the US and overseas. From her first international position in elementary education in Rabat, Morocco, through teaching French and EAL in Singapore and Shanghai, to K12 Principal in Aruba, and IB DP Coordinator in Lusaka, Francesca’s international school experience is rich and layered. She is currently serving as the Head of Upper School at Saint George’s School in Spokane, WA, where she is applying the research from her doctoral dissertation on managing stress and avoiding burnout with proactive coping skills and self-care.



Ann Marie Luce, Ed.D.  Kehoe France Southshore

Dr. Ann Marie Luce is a proud scholar practitioner who believes that our moral imperative as leaders is to build the capacity of others through service, strengths-based support and coaching.  As an educator and school principal, Ann Marie has served a variety of communities in Canada, China and the United States. Ann Marie’s doctoral research at Gonzaga University was focused on how leaders develop their cultural intelligence to lead in a global context. She believes that trust, transparency and collaboration are the keys to success for school leadership.



Jolene Lockwood

Jolene Lockwood has been an educator for 30 years in the US and abroad, and has over 15 years of coaching and consulting experience. She is a certified Dare to Lead™️ and Daring Classroom™️ facilitator for best-selling author Brené Brown and also does work around the world as a Cognitive Coaching Agency trainer, most recently for the Heritage Xperiential Schools in New Delhi, India. Jolene specializes in building and sustaining leaders that cultivate courageous cultures to transform the ways we learn, lead, and live.



Lindsay Prendergast

Lindsay Prendergast is an education leader and coach with sixteen years of experience serving schools both in the US and as a Principal in the Dominican Republic. Currently, Lindsay is a School Improvement Coach for NWEA and a Framework Specialist for The Danielson Group. She regularly designs and leads diverse professional learning experiences in both English and Spanish for ASCD, Learning Forward, Faria Education, ECIS, and Cognia.



Bridget McNamer

Bridget McNamer currently serves as Chief Navigation Officer for Sidecar Counsel, which aims to bring more women into leadership roles in international schools, enhance their leadership capacities once there, and cultivate an environment where women in these schools – and thereby all members of the school community – can thrive. Prior to creating Sidecar Counsel, she served as a senior associate with Search Associates and, in her earlier career, was an international philanthropy professional with more than 20 years’ experience in advancing social change in the foundation, corporate responsibility and education sectors.

Future generations and female role models

Future generations and female role models.

Juliette van Eerdewijk, Primary Principal, International School of The Hague

Our young people who grow up to be the new leaders, the future workforce and parents of our world have a right to equal opportunities. It is also our human right to be treated equally no matter our differences. Yet, what we experience in 2020 is still not providing the world with a platform that allows for equal opportunities. One area, besides many others, that needs to be tackled is the global gender gap. In the World Economic Forum report of 2020, the following was stated.


Projecting current trends into the future, the overall global gender gap will close in 99.5 years, on average, across the 107 countries covered continuously since the first edition of the report. Lack of progress in closing the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap leads to an extension of the time it will be needed to close this gap. At the slow speed experienced over the period 2006–2020, it will take 257 years to close this gap.
– World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report 2020 – pg 6 # 7


Furthermore, the WEF report identifies the following:
By region, Western Europe has made the most progress on gender parity (at 76.7%), followed by North America (72.9%), Latin America and the Caribbean (72.2%), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (71.3%), Sub-Saharan Africa (68.2%), South Asia (66.1%) and the Middle East and North Africa (60.5%)


This translates into gender parity in years as:

· 54 yrs – Western Europe

· 59 yrs – Latin America and the Caribbean

· 71.5 yrs – South Asia

· 95 yrs – Sub-Saharan Africa

· 107 yrs – Eastern Europe and Central Asia

· 140 yrs – The Middle East and North Africa

· 151 yrs – North America

· 163 yrs – East Asia and the Pacific


The 99.5 years was already bad enough, but the slow speed experienced in the recent decade will delay this to 257 years. Surely as educators and leaders, we can’t allow this to happen to our great-great-grandchildren. This is not just a female issue, this is a world issue, this is something we all need to tackle. We need men to stand up and demand a change so that their great-granddaughters have a right to dream and follow a career they want, as doctors, engineers, in computing, politics, technical, you name it. Do men find it acceptable that this will happen to their own flesh and blood? Or are they just thinking of their own cosy position at the moment, without a care for the future?

We need to better equip our future generation to deal with the challenges that they will be facing and ensure that there are equal opportunities for women, to give them the skills to participate in the economy and the complete labour market, to give them a chance to open a bank account and control their own finances and obtaining credit, to be involved in politics. We need to provide them with the role models in our educational system, where we encourage young females to take the steps to choose subjects that will lead to a greater choice of opportunities in the labour market.

In international education, we pride ourselves in making our students independent, forward-thinking, life-long learners. We help them to get skills that create future leaders, future workers who can contribute to the economic stability of our country and world in general. This future is built on students’ historical experiences and we are currently their experience. So, what picture do we provide them with? What role models do we give to them that will allow them to be so forward-thinking or willing to accept diversity in the workplace, such as gender balance, racial equity and equal pay.

Whilst the world of education is currently still dominated by white males allowing this to continue is an offence, as we are robbing the next generation of a future where they would have equal rights, something we still do not have in 2020. We would ostracize them from many possibilities and lead them into stereotypical work, stereotypical behaviour and nothing will have changed from 2020. We would rob them of opportunities, of visions of equality and we would be the violator whilst they would be the victim. We make our children the victims of our choices.

The importance of having female leaders as role models is vital to both our males and females. Breaking the stereotypical image of a leader as a white male is needed for our future generation to connect with a world where they are supposed to be functioning to their fullest capacity, contributing to new innovations and keeping our world a healthy and safe place, and guiding others to make the right choices. Males need to be able to start seeing that women leaders are able to bring strength to companies, research has already shown that diversity in leadership brings different voices to the decision-making process which in return leads to better decisions. Young females need to see women in these roles so that they have a role model that they can learn from, and at the same time males can learn from female role models just as well. Young people need to see that these jobs can become a reality for anyone and are not just there for a few lucky ones. Our young people need to see that females can hold the top positions, have the ability, the skills and the drive to be capable of a job and therefore be equal to men.

The focus here may have been gender, but this applies to many more differences, that would provide us with even more depressing data, such as equality for people of colour, for those with disabilities to name but a few.

Breaking the stereotyping of jobs for females, jobs for people of colour, jobs for people with disabilities, jobs for anyone who is marginalised, has got to start with us, right now. Us means all of us. Not just women, not just people of colour, not just people with disabilities, we all need to make conscious decisions that things have got to change. We cannot allow the future generation to suffer, because we did not find it important enough to raise our voice and stand up for our and their rights.

It is time for all of us to take a stance, male leaders please join us in our efforts to raise this awareness. We, and the future generation, ask for equity and for the right to be treated equally, for the right to have opportunities to be recognized for the skills and value we will bring to society. Together we can make a difference, but we do need the help of our whole society. Stand with us, raise your voice for your daughters, your granddaughters and their loved ones. Everyone will be better off if we are all given an equal chance.


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to have your thoughts below.





Juliette van Eerdewijk was born in the Netherlands and specialised in Kindergarten education and Primary education. She went abroad in 1988 and has held different leadership positions in 10 countries across Europe, South America, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. She has developed and led a variety of curricula, e.g. IB, IPC, English curriculum and school-based inquiry curricula. She holds a Masters of Arts degree from the UK in Specific Learning Difficulties.

Juliette returned to the Netherlands in 2015 and is currently the Primary Principal at the International School of The Hague, which includes whole school responsibilities. She is involved in training senior leaders (iNPQSL) at the International Leadership Academy where they have given an international spin to this training. Juliette is also a country lead of #WomenEdNL. She is a keen life-long learner and her hobby is wildlife photography.