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Friday, 1 December 2017

The beginning?

I worked as a science teacher for seven years and then applied for the principalship in the same school. I was twenty-eight years old. While I enjoyed my work as a teacher, I wanted something more. As a principal in that small school, I also taught, so I didn’t have to leave the classroom altogether. 


The previous principal and I didn’t see eye to eye on many things. This man was not one I could ask questions of. And I had lots of questions, about school funding and budget to name a few. As a regular classroom teacher prior to this time, I would not have needed to know this information. I decided to ask school board personnel for information when I started the job. 


However, I did learn to be diligent with paper work from the previous principal, which was his strong point, not mine without great effort. Thanks to him, I became efficient and met deadlines in spite of my distaste for paper work.

My first week on the job, a truck pulled up to the front door of the school with dozens of boxes of text books. This was a small school with a small number of students in a limited number of courses in senior high. The previous principal had ordered five copies of every book on the provincial senior high curriculum. It cost the school a great deal of money to send the books back, money which could have been put to better use for the students. Those books could not have been ordered by accident! 


The superintendent of this small school board had hired me for the science position seven years before. He was a gentleman. I had stopped on my way across the island for an interview with him. He showed this young east coast woman around the central Newfoundland town where the school board was centered. He was part of the reason I accepted the job in one of the rural communities under that board.


The assistant superintendent was a former principal himself, an administrator at heart, with knowledge and ability suited to his job. I needed answers from him about administration, things I could have asked the former principal had he been approachable or helpful. Any time I asked a question of the assistant however, he smiled or laughed. I couldn’t get a straight answer from a man who had much he could teach someone who valued his knowledge and experience. What could I do? 


I approached the superintendent and discussed how I valued the assistant’s ability and how he didn’t take me seriously. I wanted a working relationship. I was eager to learn and could learn much from the assistant if he treated me with respect.


The next time the assistant visited the school, he said his boss had spoken to him about the situation and things would change. They did. I learned a great deal from that man after I spoke up about his treatment of me. I wanted a chance at that job, to be respected for the educator I was and the one I could become.


The next year I began a Master’s degree in Educational Administration, the theoretical side of the job. I learned the practical information from the assistant and another mentor. I did correspondence courses throughout the next four school years and attended university for those summers. While I stayed in administration for four years, I changed my degree to Educational Counselling which I enjoyed much more.


These events occurred thirty-five years ago. According to the news these last few months, women still don’t have equal treatment in the workplace. In some respects, it may be worse. 


How good does a woman have to be in order to be accepted as equal to members of the establishment? It is time for a change. Is it beginning?

38 comments:

  1. I certainly hope that we are seeing a cultural change now about sexual harassment in the workplace. It is long, long overdue.

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  2. The fight continues in some areas even though there have been remarkable gains.



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    1. I think we have in this country but in much of the world, women have it difficult.

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  3. I am glad you stood up for yourself like that. It's a tragedy that women are still not given equal status, even today. I am hoping the young women of today will change all that. BTW, I'm reading "Anne of Green Gables" for the first time, and I think of you often while reading. :-)

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    1. The problem is women can’t often speak up for themselves due to the imbalance of power or the insidious ways men have of sabotaging them. I hope it is changing, Jan.

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  4. Yes, it's still bad. It's just more passive/aggressive now. I don't know when/if it will ever change. Our world seems to be taking leaps and bounds of backward movement, not forward progression. Until that skid is halted, we can't move forward.

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    1. We are making some progress in Canada, but it is slow.

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  5. Good for you, thanks for your story! I have eight grand daughters and I'm concerned for them but they are tougher than I was. It's still rough out there. I'm grateful for having had a father who believed his daughters deserved better.

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    1. Good for your father, Celia. My father stressed education as a necessity to be able to support myself. I think him and Mom were part of the reason I learned to speak up about some things.

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  6. It never ceases to amaze me the way women are treated in some parts of the world Marie.. it's as if some men actually believe that women are not as capable as they are, incroyable! It's the same way some white people feel about people of colour, as if they aren't actually the same as they are.. hopefully attitudes are changing, but not nearly fast enough.

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    1. It is easy to get down about the ways of the world I find, PDP. The key for me is to focus on the positives, regroup and keep going.

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  7. I am very grateful to the men in superior positions who treated me with respect and allowed me to learn what they knew. I was such a minority in the seventies, and so were they. I know little has changed.

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    1. Joanne, you were fortunate to have men like those you knew.

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  8. I really enjoy reading all your blogs wonderful job Marie. Hugs

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  9. To do something well, even though we dislike it, that's excellent. Sorry the first dude was such a wank, though. Going back up to read the rest ....

    .... Yikes on the mega order of books. OMG. Such a sad use of money.

    Wow, on the talking about what you needed. Very cool. Go you. Headed back up to read the last bit ....

    .... Congrats on changing your degree to something you enjoyed much more.

    Yes. It is The Time of Change. It's also the year of Wonder Woman (in movies), and the entire year of 2017 for women to rise and also, for men to stop using their dicks for brains, bullying and bullshit.

    Watch us rise. It's our time now.

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    1. We have to do a much better job teaching our young people what is acceptable and what isn’t. Eventually the rest of them with the terrible attitudes and behaviours will die off. Sad but true I sometimes fear, HW.

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  10. There is no reason to disrespect a woman, treat her the same as you would like to be treated. That was my mother's advice to me and I have always remembered it. It was good advice then and still is.

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    1. The golden rule works for everything, Bill. Wise Mom.

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  11. I worked for a company that hired a gentleman to do the job I had been doing. I trained him, taught him everything he needed to know. A few months in I learned that he was making substantially more than I was. I had already been here seven years. When I asked the supervisor why, I was told that he was a man with a family to support and that it wasn’t a reflection on me. I had four kids at that time.

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    1. Linda, that is so infuriating it makes my blood boil.

      I was lucky to work in an occupation with equal pay for men and women. However, there were more men in the higher salary positions such as principals, board personnel and the like.

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  12. I'm hoping that going forward there will be some men out there who have had their eyes opened about the Good Old Boys Club.

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  13. It was a difficult journey for you Marie, but your hard work paid off, and that is a blessing. Men and women both have so much to learn from each other, I agree.

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    1. We need a discussion for sure, Marilyn. Maybe it will begin now!

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  14. I enjoyed reading this post. I really like how you handled these situations in your career. I hope things are changing, I feel like they have been recently but still see and hear things that make me cringe.

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    1. I cringe too with every newscast these days, Jenn. It is good the doors are opening for disclosure of the realities for women. Getting beyond disclosure may be more difficult.

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  15. What a magnificent and inspiring story, Marie...YOUR story. But don't get me started on the inequities surrounding women everywhere in the world but in the Western world, especially, where it should not be happening still. You raise some good questions. And with all the sexual harassments/assaults coming to light these days, I'd love to see women having come to the tipping point, speaking out, as you did, to make JUSTICE happen. BRAVA!

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    1. Telling the stories is the beginning. Actual change may be much harder, Ginnie.

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  16. Congratulations Marie for hanging in there. I would bet that you changed many girls lives for the better. My "business years" (starting in the mid 50's)were rife with examples of how we women were valued way below the men. Even as late as 1977 when we moved to North Carolina and I got a job in our local hospital I was amazed to find that when I wanted to open a checking account in my own name I couldn't do it without written permission from my husband !!

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  17. How ridiculous was that bank process, Ginnie?

    In 1986, my husband and I had a mortgage on a house which was in both our names. We lived on his salary, and put my salary, which was higher, on the house, paying it off in seven years. The congratulatory letter from the bank was addressed to my husband only, signed by a female bank manager!

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  18. This is a sad a great story - as an ex-teacher (never a principal, just head of Sci Faculty) I know what you mean about finding out how things are done - and how people can make life easy or hard depending on their attitude. I never had to deal with the #metoo stuff - but as a father of a daughter I really hope that things are getter better - although evidence would suggest otherwise. There is always hope.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. At least the issues are being exposed and discussed now, Stewart.

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  19. As I read this, I wasn't interpreting it as a gender issue but a human one, the middle syllable being quite apt. However, you were there, so you know whereof you speak.

    I had female administrators, and we got along fine, but, now that I think about it, I must admit that they only came to the fore in the later years of my career.

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    1. There weren’t many women in the admin positions when I there, AC.

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  20. I was always fortunate to work with men who saw women as equal, period. Still do. And my parents had a great impact on me as well - a mother who was outspoken and fought for "the right thing" in all areas, and a father who was gentle and kind. I really didn't completely realize my good luck until the recent revelations showing the depth and breadth of issues other women have faced in the past and in many cases still do. It makes me somewhat hesitant to join the conversation; I don't feel I can fully understand because it wasn't that way for me.

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    1. I am happy for you, Jenny. It is testimony to the fact that there are many good men out there too. I hope all women will have your experience one day.

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