08/26/2020 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

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Designated by Congress in 1973, Women's Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote.

In the early 19th century, American women, who generally couldn’t inherit property and made half of a man’s wages in any available jobs, began organizing to demand political rights and representation. By the early 1900s, several countries had legalized voting for women as the movement continued to sweep across the world. In the U.S., the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was first introduced in 1878, but it failed to gain traction. It wasn’t until women’s involvement in the World War I effort made their contributions painfully obvious that women’s suffrage finally gained enough support. Women’s rights groups pointed out the hypocrisy of fighting for democracy in Europe while denying it to half of American citizens at home.

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee was the last of the necessary 36 ratifying states to secure adoption. The 19th Amendment's adoption was certified on August 26, 1920, the culmination of a decades-long movement for women's suffrage at both state and national levels.

This year's Women's Equality Day marks 100 years since the women's suffrage movement. Today, however, the women's movement is still active as the wage gap between men and women impacts women’s economic power and gender-based discrimination still plagues workplaces. This is true in independent schools, where women — and especially women of color — are not equally represented in positions of leadership. This is something we have been working to shift through efforts like our Women's Institute; annual diversity conference; and implicit bias training with hiring managers, search committees, and boards of trustees.

On this Women's Equality Day, we are celebrating by sharing the leadership journey stories of 17 fierce women working in independent schools. From heads of school to division heads and directors of enrollment and diversity, these women describe their unique paths in education, the challenges they faced, and the successes they enjoyed — and provide some inspiration (and humor) for other women in education.

These stories were originally featured as part of the exclusive content from our month-long Women's (Re)Institute this past June. Check out all 17 here, including stories from:

Christina Pak, Head of Upper School at Mirman School

Danielle Passno, Head of Middle School at The Browning School

Johára Tucker, Director of Equity and Inclusion at Head-Royce School

Lise Charlier, Head of School at The Cambridge School of Weston

Meredith Herrera, Dean of Student Life at The Branson School

Rochelle Reodica, Director of Upper School at Marin Horizon School

Dorothy Jones, Dean of Enrollment and Community Culture at The Bay School of San Francisco

Chelsea Collins, incoming Head of School of St. Luke’s Episcopal School

Samantha Coyne-Donnel, Head of School at Emerald Mountain School

Laura Farrell, Head of School at Merion Mercy Academy

Marlene Shaw, former Head of School at St. Mary's Episcopal School

Ann Teaff, former Head of School at Harpeth Hall

Aggie Underwood, former Head of School at National Cathedral School

Barbara Daush, former President at St. Agnes-St. Dominic School

Barbara Landis Chase, former Head of School at Phillips Academy

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