Principal - May/June 2021 - 38

Women

IN LEADERSHIP

Taking Equity Beyond Gender
Use design thinking to create policies, practices,
and programs that welcome diverse women
BY ANDREA THOMPSON

A

and

JESSICA GOMEZ

s organizational leaders become more intentional
about increasing gender diversity, inclusion, and
equity, we must understand how intersectionality
plays a role in marginalization and an opportunity
for organizational enhancement and enrichment alike. To
emphasize the latter, we should begin with the view that
diversity enriches an organization, then follow up with a
willingness to confront gender-related implicit biases and an
empathetic approach toward developing policies, practices,
and programs.
The landscape architect who embraces the benefits of
different plants and flowers is likely to design a diverse
and cohesive garden. Similarly, organizational leaders who
understand that gender is not monocultural have the chance
to benefit from the intersection of identities that a variety of
women brings to it. Female experiences vary greatly based
on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, language, ability, sexual orientation, class, and age, and leaders should
acknowledge and capitalize on all variety of identities for the
organization's benefit.

*

38

M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 1 * N A E S P. O R G

Some leaders take a one-size-fits-all
approach to gender equity, advancing only women of a specific race,
ethnicity, experience, ability, sexuality,
or class. Such a leader views intersectionality as an obstacle to organizational growth and believes that if one
woman shatters the glass ceiling, gender equity has been achieved for all.
But to dismiss the intersectionalities
in which women thrive is to devalue all
women and the value gender equity
creates. Just because a few women
have shattered the ceiling doesn't mean
that gender equity has been achieved.
There needs to be diversity within gender diversity. With each social
identity comes a variety of voices in the
gender-equity discussion. The climb to
the top is different for females based
on any number of intersectionalities by
which each is defined and marginalized.
Capturing the essence of these
intersections requires a design-thinking
approach that affords leaders the
opportunity to empathetically listen to
why some within the female gender
are closer to the figurative center of
success, while others are closer to the
margins. Organizational leaders who
embrace intersectionality understand
that female leaders are often
stereotyped and marginalized by every
one of their identities.

Design Thinking and
Gender Equity
Equitable practices must be put in
place to ensure access for all diverse
elements present within each educator. A design thinking paradigm that
engages with intersectional females is
the best way to garner the knowledge
and understanding needed to develop
gender-equity policies, practices, and
programs that align with their needs.
The process might also reveal and
help confront implicit biases.


http://www.NAESP.ORG

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