To the Editor:
I am writing to follow up on the discussion at the April 15 faculty meeting about gender equity in student leadership. As anticipated, The Phillipian ran an article last Friday about the Girls’ Leadership Project (GLP) and our recent sleepover at the Brace Center. Chris Li deserves credit for producing a fair and accurate description of the group and its goals. I commend Chris’ article to you (which can be viewed on phillipian.net).
One issue that Chris does not address in his article is how students are selected for the GLP. We have used a variety of methods to get girls involved. The 25 Lower girls that Alana Rush and Malin Adams invited to the inaugural gathering in 2009 had been identified as potential leaders in their PACE classes. In subsequent years we have asked the teachers and house counselors of Junior girls to encourage their students to join or we have invited all of the girls in a grade by e-mail. The Phillipian published an article a couple of years ago about the group. and otherwise we have depended upon word of mouth to make students aware of the program. Purely by happenstance, we have had 20-25 girls per grade express interest.
It is important to note that long before the GLP there were Women’s Forum (founded in 1987 by a student-faculty group) and the Brace Center (which encourages the discussion of gender issues around the world). As a complement to these established Andover institutions, the purpose of GLP has been to offer support and encouragement for those interested in pursuing elected or appointed positions and to help them develop and refine practical skills that will be useful to them as leaders. By the time the girls become Uppers, they are often interested in passing on their wisdom to younger peers. One-on-one mentoring has proven a challenge, because the girls are so busy, but group networking and informal peer counseling have been quite successful.
For much of the last four years, Kathy Dalton has brought her vast knowledge of gender studies to her co-advisor role. Two years ago, Katie Faulkner, then a teaching fellow in History and Social Science, assisted us, and for the last year Sarah Coghlan has been an important additional adult presence. Jenny Elliott began meeting with the GLP in the winter and has been a particularly active advisor to students confronting gender matters from inside and outside the group. In addition to CC Robinson, who is mentioned in Chris’s article, Maggie Jackson and Trish Russell also spent part of the evening of the sleepover with us. We are happy to have anyone who is interested to contact us and get involved.
Assistant Head of School