On the Right Track

February 01, 2017 by Bill Ivey
  • The general public has viewed her sports as lesser; his sports are more widely regarded and compensated than hers.
  • Media has favored his sports over hers.

From the updated “Declaration of Sentiments” written by the Humanities 7 class along with girls from Bancroft School, Center School, Eaglebrook School, Four Rivers Charter Public School, Hampshire Regional School, and Hilltop Montessori School.


I often feel like I have to apologize for being a fan of the UConn women’s basketball team. They’ve won four straight NCAA Division-I championships, their current win streak (which broke their own record of 90) stands at 95, and their average margin of victory is in the double digits. Other than the UCLA men’s basketball team of the John Wooden era, no program that I can think of has dominated a college sport to this extent. So some baggage comes with identifying as a UConn fan, especially if you didn’t actually go there.

Filed Under: women in sports, Sports, anti-racism, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Feminism, Women in media, Intersections

Not That Girl

May 07, 2015 by Bill Ivey

I’m still on the email list for the 9th grade class, so when Eni ‘18 shared the agenda for Wednesday’s class meeting, I received a copy of the email. She also included a link to a Buzzfeed video, “I Am Not That Girl.” Curious, I clicked on the link, and found a video that began with a litany of insecurities that takes up over half of its 2’16”: “I’ve never been That Girl… That girl who knows how to flirt properly. That girl who knows how to put on make-up flawlessly. That girl who can post a photo to Instagram and not find a million insecurities lurking at the tips of her fingers as she presses the “Share” button...” Being judged and judging herself is not limited to her flaws, especially as subjected to a heteronormative male gaze, for “I know that I shouldn’t let these things define my femininity… And I’m always forced to ask myself, ‘What’s wrong with me?’” Eventually, though, the video shifts tone: “But maybe it’s because I was never destined to be That Girl. Maybe it’s because I was destined to be something more…”

Filed Under: girls' education, Girls Schools, Feminism, Women in media, girls' school, feminist school

Making Feminism Cool

October 01, 2014 by Bill Ivey

“Bra-burning. Man-hating. Angry and unattractive. Such stereotypes have shadowed the women’s movement over the past few decades — and a slew of young, fashionable celebs are working to clarify feminism’s true definition.” (Fairchild) Setting aside for another day the question of why such a stereotype may have come to life and remained, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, so persistent, Caroline Fairchild raises a good question in her article “Will young celebrities make feminism ‘cool’?” Besides noting Emma Watson’s epic speech at the UN launching the “He for She” campaign, Ms. Fairchild mentions Taylor Swift’s recent realization that she has been a feminist all along and Beyoncé’s performance at the VMAs backed by the word “feminist” in huge block letters.

Feminism, many analysts note, has been waging an uphill battle for years to define itself as being in general far more inclusive than it is typically portrayed. I’ve certainly seen many students over my three decades here echo Ms. Swift’s sentiment when she said, “As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means.” (Swift, quoted in Thomas)

Filed Under: gender, All-Girls, LGBT Support, anti-racism, social justice, gender equity, community, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, Women in media, racism

To ban or not to ban: "Bossy"

March 13, 2014 by Bill Ivey

“When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’” So begins the website at http://banbossy.com/, a new organization co-founded by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean-In Foundation and the Girl Scouts of America. The website points out that girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boy’s from elementary to high school, that girls are twice as likely as boys to worry about being called “bossy,” and girls are still called on less and interrupted more in class. (Ban Bossy) There’s no question that we need to do something about that, and there’s no question we know some of the things that work.

On the Girl Scouts’ website, for example, they share the results of a study done in 2008 that showed the following (Girl Scouts):

  • Girls, even at a very young age, have definite ideas about what it means and takes to be a leader.
  • Promoting leadership in girls is primarily a matter of fostering their self-confidence and providing supportive environments in which to acquire leadership experience.
  • To be relevant to and successful with girls, a leadership program must address their aspirational or preferred definition of leadership, their need for emotional safety, and their desire for social and personal development.
  • Girls have a range of “leadership identities,” from strong aspiration to outright rejection of the leadership role.

Filed Under: gender, All-Girls, gender stereotypes, intersectionality, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, anti-racism, social justice, Parenting, On Parenting, community, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, Women in media, girls' school, Current Events, gender activism, Education

No Makeup Policy

February 13, 2014 by Bill Ivey

As I pulled into the parking lot of Target in attempt to find a yellow T-shirt for our Spirit Week Colour Wars skit, my phone beeped to tell me I had a text. It was Jeff Conlon, our Athletic Director, asking me if I was watching the Olympics and quoting one of the announcers. It turned out they were talking about the women’s downhill race and the tough course, and focusing on how strong and skilled and athletic the racers were...

Just kidding. The actual quote Jeff texted me was “Maybe a bit of makeup” and it turned out the announcers were, surprise of surprises, focusing on how the women looked and what they were wearing. I couldn’t disagree with his comment, “horrible,” even if I had wanted to. Which I didn’t. As he added later in our text-conversation, “Talk about taking the focus off the amazing athletic accomplishments and making them into ‘girls.’”

Filed Under: women in sports, gender, media, Feminism, Women in media, Current Events

Cringe-Worthy

February 10, 2014 by Bill Ivey

Three years ago, when working on my annual Martin Luther King Day piece, I wanted to connect his dream that children in the U.S. might “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” to similar dreams for social justice for other axes of diversity. As it happened, once we had published the piece and I had spoken in housemeeting, a discussion emerged on Twitter about whether or not these very kinds of connection were appropriate or appropriation. Concerned, I wanted to seek out opinions, and seized on an interchange between two of my friends, John Spencer and José Vilson, to bring up the question. I emerged from that short discussion believing that I needed to focus more specifically on racism in any future Martin Luther King Day speeches, and I believe I have done so for the most part (2012 - 2013 (less so) - 2014). But in the process of reacting to that 2011 post, I added another cringe-worthy moment to a long and ever-growing list.

However much I might have tried to disguise it to myself at the time, what I did was unfair to José and John, and perhaps especially to José as a person of colour. Through my actions, I was making them responsible for teaching me rather than going out and educating myself. In the process, in other words, I was not being an effective ally in the anti-racist fight for social justice, however well-intentioned I may have been. I’ve tried never to do that again - which is not to say there haven’t been other cringe-worthy moments since. Hopefully, though, they are at least becoming fewer and further between.

Filed Under: gender, Piers Morgan, Redefining Realness, LGBT Support, Janet Mock, social justice, Acceptance, diversity, Feminism, Women in media, Current Events, racism, transgender

Oh, joy. One whole day.

February 05, 2014 by Bill Ivey

Whatever you might have thought of the Super Bowl, at least it's a chance for the people of Seattle to celebrate their first championship in pro sports in 35 years, right?

Filed Under: women in sports, gender, athletics, social justice, On Athletics, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Feminism, Women in media, Current Events

Your Thoughts

January 27, 2014 by Bill Ivey

On Sunday, I received an email from my friend Jeremy Deason (a former Athletic Director and middle school teacher/advisor here) with the subject header “Your Thoughts.” I always smile whenever I hear from Jeremy, and was excited to see what was up. He invited me to look at the following three links in order and write some quick notes of reaction after reading each article before proceeding on to the next. I’ll share them now in case anyone wants to do the same before reading on here, though I will also summarize important ideas for anyone who prefers to simply continue reading:
1. http://t.co/l5UGFV66fW
2. http://t.co/ZFSZgtAFpP
3. http://bit.ly/KgBZ4n

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[optional Jeopardy theme song here!]
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Filed Under: gender, LGBT Support, Grantland, social justice, Caleb Hannan, diversity, Dr. V, Women in media, Current Events

No Retreat, No Surrender

December 03, 2013 by Bill Ivey

We need to make sure we’re making it possible for people of all genders to feel acknowledged for their contributions and not feel held back by something as arbitrary as their genetics or appearance.
- Emily Graslie

Chief Curiosity Coordinator has to be one of the most awesome job titles ever. The position, created by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, is held by Emily Graslie, who is STEAM (Science - Technology - Engineering - Art - Mathematics) personified. A studio art major, she interned at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum, where she was tapped to host her own show on YouTube, “The Brain Scoop,” to show and discuss the behind-the-scenes workings of a major natural history museum. She also manages a tumblr by the same name.

Filed Under: gender, Technology, The Brain Scoop, STEAM, All Girls Education, Feminism, Women in media, STEM, Current Events, Emily Graslie

Meeting of Minds

December 02, 2013 by Bill Ivey

One day in Humanities 7, class, we were talking about different ideas of what is feminism and what is feminine when suddenly their voices began to get louder and more urgent. There was an edge, and I could tell there was something below the surface I hadn’t quite deciphered yet when one of the girls told another, “You’re a dudist!” Before I’d recovered laughing from the inventive spontaneity of the word “dudist,” I knew I had finally figured out what was going on: some kids in the class viewed feminism as inherently anti-men, while others didn’t. I explained that, while there is indeed a small and often vocal group of feminists who are anti-men and who perhaps get disproportionate coverage in the media, by no means do they speak for all feminists. One could, I told the kids, in fact argue there are as many kinds of feminism as there are feminists. And that led to an inspiration.

“Some of the strongest feminists in this school,” I told the students, “are in Ms. Durrett’s Sophomore Honors English class. Would you like to invite them to join us one day to talk about all this?” They loved the idea, as did Ms. Durrett and her students. Both classes wrote questions to help frame the discussion, and on the appointed day, the sophomores came streaming into our room, the eyes of former Humanities 7 students lighting up as their faces softened with memories. The kids all settled into every beanbag chair in the middle school, some doubling up, with a look of anticipation on their faces.

Filed Under: women in sports, gender, All-Girls, The Girls School Advantage, community, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Women in media, girls' school, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School