Women empowerment in the education workforce

With eight female principals, Wayne township is not shy when it comes to equality


Michaela Carter, Staff Writer

Did you know that many years ago, women were not allowed to have jobs with power? Now, all over Wayne Township, we have many female leaders that play huge roles in our school system. We have women who are apart of the school board, counselors in Wayne Township. Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Principal, Sheri Patterson tells us what its like to be a female principal in Wayne Township.

Is it hard to have so much power in this industry?

“Almost from the beginning when I became a Team Leader, then Department Chair in IPS in 1977, I just felt that this leadership thing was a service to others.  Authors Kouzes and Posner wrote that with power comes responsibility. It’s not that I’m so virtuous all the time, it’s just that it truly is a “we deal.” Meaning rarely is a Principal all alone in running a school. What I find to be the hardest, is being THE PRINCIPAL 24/7. I get calls and email at home, and I welcome that so that we can problem-solve. I drive to Riley Hospital at 8:30 at night to hug a parent and my student.  Even on vacation, I do have that responsibility of being the leader of a big place and lots of people (whether I have my cell phone on or not!) “

Have you ever had any difficult experiences because you’re a female principal?

“Funny.  Sometimes I idle a little high.  (you know, laugh loud, talk more than others, have an active face…)  At one time I thought it sure would be easier if I had a face that didn’t show my emotions, but as I grew in leadership, I realized that trying to be someone else is just a dumb idea! ‘Not that I don’t always try to be the best I can be!  A Butler University professor once said, “A strength overdone becomes a weakness.” I’ve always remembered that advice! Here is the juxtaposition. In times of emergency, I am pretty stoic! I don’t get too rattled. Let’s talk about crying in leadership!  HA! I know for a fact that male principals cry. Maybe not in public, but they do!! If I am moved to tears, I work hard to suspend my emotion if I can for those around me, and later take a moment for sobbing! Finally, there are many mornings that I just wish I could pull out a shirt and tie and a suit. Period. Go to work.  That’s what men do. You can only imagine that with me, it’s all about the accessories!!! ‘Takes a little more time!”

Has anyone ever told you you shouldn’t be a principal because you’re a woman?

“The wonderful thing about Wayne is that there are so many women at the admin level.  I love that! And, you know what? We principals never talk about the gender thing. We all have so many other things in common that gender doesn’t seem to be relevant.”

Wayne Township has an extreme amount of diversity and the number of women that have a leadership role should be very empowering to people all over. Women used to not be able to have jobs such as being a principal, public figure and more. The principal of Chapel Hills 7th and 8th-grade center has given us a deep insight into what it’s like to be a principal and to be someone with a large leadership role as a woman.