Supporting Gender Equity

Women’s History Month: A time for conversation


Photo: Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock (Courtesy)

Women’s History Month offers an opportunity for reflection and acknowledgment as the fight for gender equity continues.

The month of March celebrates women’s accomplishments and perseverance. In addition, this celebration of women is an opportunity to acknowledge the issues that are still present today as women continue to battle gender inequity. 

Head of School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau feels that it is extremely important to have strong female representation within University Prep, especially now that the pandemic has put a dent in the progress that women have made in the working world. The pandemic has shown that many women are still the main caregivers for children within their households. 

“I think UPrep is getting there, but like all independent schools, there is work to be done. Most of our schools are still headed by men, and our high schools tend to have more male teachers than female,” Codrington-Cazeau said. “What I love about UPrep is that there are many role models in this school. Many of our STEM classes are taught by women and the leadership team has many strong women sitting on it.”

Director of Social Emotional Learning Emily Schorr Lesnick believes that the path to gender equity includes asking questions, sharing experiences and being mindful of others.

“How I define gender equity is not just having an even ratio of boys to girls and some non-binary folks,” Schorr Lesnick said. “I think for me, gender equality is a place where people of all genders are affirmed and celebrated.”

Through workshops and curricular education, UPrep is taking steps to be more conscious of gender issues. Junior Harry Rothman is one of the leaders of the Gender Equity Club. Rothman understands the importance of involving students in conversations about this topic and spreading knowledge of gender equity to a bigger audience. 

“I think that, because UPrep is such a small school, we’re able to include a greater population of the student body, so we’re able to hold these conversations and get a lot of people thinking about gender equity and how we as a community can create change,” Rothman said.  “Get invested in these conversations so you know what to do when a problem shows up, call out hateful actions and be a good human being.”

Codrington-Cazeau believes that it is particularly important that all genders have the opportunity and right to share their opinions.

“We, like all schools, need to continue seeing that all genders have a voice at the table and there are no voices that dictate the conversation. We need to continue to listen and learn from each other and to engage in difficult conversations,” Codrington-Cazeau said. “We also need to support each other and, when we can, make sure that we support all activities and teams at the school equally.”

Exploration beyond the typical idea of gender will give the school a chance to move forward. The expectations of gender can sometimes be perplexing to students throughout the school.

“I was just in a conversation yesterday … and I was in this girl affinity space [with 8th grade girls]. The girls in my group were saying how the messages we get about being a girl is very confusing,” Schorr Lesnick said. “Don’t be too feminine then you won’t be taken seriously, don’t be too masculine because then you won’t be considered a real girl.”

Through affinity spaces and larger conversations, students are able to discuss gender stereotypes and misogynistic stigmas that are present at UPrep.

Though these conversations should be held year around, March has been an important month throughout history for women movements and laws. For example, the first major suffragette march in Washington, DC occurred on March 1, 1913. Also, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. Accordingly, this year’s theme for Women’s History Month is a continuation of 2020’s “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.”

Graphic: Annabel