An all girl school failure to celebrate women’s successes equally
invites all men to ignore women’s successes completely.
I attended an all girl Catholic high school in the 1960s. I have stayed in touch with a number of high school classmates. My high school is unhappy about me saying my experiences at that school were mostly terrible. The school administration believed that the requirement for physical uniforms included mental and emotional uniforms as well. We had to follow strict rules for wearing our physical uniforms. There were also strict rules for wearing the mental and emotional uniforms. The school administration considered us successful only if we wore the assigned physical, mental, and emotional uniforms properly.
Four years after I graduated from high school, I ran into a classmate I met the first day of our freshman year. I told her it took me two years to figure out everything our high school told us about the world that was not true. She responded that she’d had exactly the same experience.
I stayed on the alumnae list to stay in touch with classmates. After my older sister graduated from the same high school, she made sure to disappear from the alumnae list. She hated our high school so much she wanted to make sure the administration could never find her. Many of the classmates I wanted to stay in touch with never appeared on the alumnae lists. Staying off the alumnae lists was apparently a common goal.
Exposing The Truth
In 2010, I received a fundraising letter saying that donor organizations wanted to know how many alumnae were donating money to the high school. The letter revealed that only 3% percent of alumnae made donations. The letter writer — an alumna — asked, “What’s up with that?”
The answer to “What’s up with that?” has at least two parts. First, 97% of alumnae did not enjoy their high school years. Second, 97% of alumnae did not enjoy years of figuring out the lies our high school told us about the world. The question itself is insulting. I read the question as: What’s up with alumnae refusing to wear the assigned mental and emotional uniforms?
Living The Lessons My High School Taught
When I post my successes to my class Facebook page, dozens of classmates view my posts, but very few classmates celebrate my successes by liking my posts or writing comments. My high school taught us to betray each other according to the cultural themes of betrayal between women.
I am one of 40 women who wrote chapters for Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference. The book’s official Amazon launch was February 23, 2021. By 10:00 in the morning, our book had reached #1 bestseller in Biography Reference and Collections. By midafternoon we were #2 in Business Mentoring & Coaching and #3 in Women & Business. Our book became an international bestseller on launch day. The next day, our book became #1 in Business Mentoring & Coaching.
On launch day, I wrote three posts about the bestselling success of my book to my high school class Facebook page. This is the count for each post on April 30, 2021:
8 reactions and comments by the same women
I posted a graphic of the book’s Amazon standings on February 27th.
My high school viewed every post, but remained silent. I took screenshots to prove my high school viewed my posts without celebrating my success. Note that the majority of my classmates followed the example of my high school in ignoring my success.
For the record, I celebrated a success of the religious order that sponsors my high school. On March 22, 2017 I wrote a post on my class Facebook page about a trailblazing effort by that religious order in 1978. I discovered it in a book about a particular kind of social justice and shared it with my classmates. My high school liked my celebration of their success. My high school never celebrated a single one of my successes. I can only assume they never celebrate any success of any alumna who refuses to wear the assigned mental and emotional uniforms. No matter what each alumna does to make the world a better place, money in the school bank account was and is my high school’s top priority.
I took a screenshot of my post celebrating the success of the sponsoring religious order. I wouldn’t put it past my high school to delete that post after they learn about this blog post.
Have my Catholic high school administrations and classmates heard of
the second greatest Christian commandment?
A Mission Of Inequality
Here is my high school’s mission statement as I write this:
—— ———, a college preparatory Catholic school for women, sponsored by the —— ——— Sisters,
fosters academic excellence, truth, peace and justice while challenging each student to develop leadership
for life and respect for all races, cultures, and faiths.
Did you notice that the word “equality” is missing?
Women’s leadership that excludes equality for women?
Women’s leadership that includes intentional inequality for women?
Why should men celebrate women’s successes when women ignore women’s successes?
I offered to do a free workshop to current students at my high school about breaking glass ceilings. The school ignored my offer.
Some All Girl High Schools Teach Equality
I graduated from high school in 1969. The current administration at my high school cannot even admit that Catholic education for girls in the 1960s limited women’s opportunities severely. One example: My high school did not offer advanced math classes because why on earth would good Catholic girls need to know advanced math? We were just going to get married and make babies!
And yet, my high school expects all alumnae to donate money.
My two younger sisters attended a different all girl Catholic high school. One of them took karate lessons as part of her school curriculum. More freedom to think and feel differently than my older sister and I had. I don’t know about my younger sisters’ alumnae experiences because my family was toxic and I walked away from everyone after my father died. I hope their high school does more celebrations of student and alumnae success. That would mean more invitations for men to celebrate women’s successes.
Ultimate Proof Of Intentional Inequality
In 2019 I created a new Facebook account for my business activities. I did not know that Facebook had changed its policies about multiple accounts. On April 29, 2021 I informed friends of my original Facebook account that I would soon be deleting that account and keeping my second account. I sent friend requests to my list of friends. Not every classmate accepted my request.
But the ultimate inequality came from my high school. I asked to join the private group for my graduating year. I first accidentally clicked on the wrong year and requested membership. I heard back from that class group in less than an hour. No acceptance from my own class group 5 days after requesting membership.
My high school excels at teaching girls to discount and betray other girls and women.
My high school fails at celebrating student and alumnae successes equally.
My high school excels at teaching intentional inequality.
My high school fails at teaching girls to create respectful connections with other girls and women despite differences.
Applying Pressure For Equality
I wrote this blog post to draw attention to the damage high schools like mine do to girls and women while pretending to be improving the world for girls and women.
It’s likely my high school will add the word ‘equality’ to its mission statement after reading this post. The administration will want to pretend it cares after they know people are reading about their intentional inequality. They can prove they care about equality by equally celebrating the successes of each student and each alumna.
I doubt it will happen without pressure from parents.
Take note. To be a model for celebrating student and alumnae successes equally, my high school has to celebrate every single one of my successes equally. Every single one.
To counter the damage all girl schools like my high school do, I plan to make a video. I am taking a video course to create promotional videos for my own businesses. When those are finished, I will make a video about the question parents should ask any all girl school. See the section below. I will post the video on social media monthly. The video will explain where parents can read this blog post.
When I read about the sponsoring order in the book on social justice, I discovered that they had been leaders in creating that particular kind of social equality. My high school’s sponsoring order could have been leaders in creating equality for girls and women. Instead, they continuously created intentional inequality for their students and alumnae. For all of those wasted decades I have wanted to say this to the successive administrations of my high school:
Stop acting like teenage girl cliques and grow up already!
What value are you getting from private school tuition to an all girl school that invites men to ignore your daughter(s)’s successes? Ignoring successes translates into fewer career opportunities, fewer promotions, and lower salaries. Here is a quote from startup investor and advisor Fran Hauser:
“We were talking about potential salary increases for a man and a woman who were peers,
and an older woman on the board recommended a higher salary increase for the man,
explaining that he was the primary breadwinner in his family, while the woman was single
and didn’t have the same financial stress.”
That older woman wanted to create intentional inequality for another woman. Her words invited every man on that board to create intentional inequality for all women. She ignored the other woman’s successes in the same way my high school teaches its students to ignore other women’s successes. I could only wonder if that older woman is an alumna of my high school.
If you are a parent looking for an all girl school for your daughter(s), ask each school this question:
“How do you celebrate the successes
of each student and each alumna equally?”
Schools will learn to celebrate successes equally when parents demonstrate their willingness to take their tuition money elsewhere. Perhaps a sincere desire for equality will follow.
Movement For Equality
My resilience includes exposing women who create inequality between women. I launched Women Speaking Equality on Facebook to encourage women to celebrate other women’s successes. I posted a link to this blog post as a comment to the pinned post on that page. My followers already include women on other continents.
Voices of the 21st Century is a series. The 2021 book is the 4th book in the series. I have already been accepted to write a chapter for 2022’s Voices V. My chapter is about equality between women and will refer to my Women Speaking Equality page on Facebook. Since the first four books in the series are all international bestsellers, Voices V will be an international bestseller as well. Women from around the world will go to Women Speaking Equality on Facebook and see the link to this blog post. Women from around the world will learn how my all girl Catholic high school creates intentional inequality between and for girls and women.
How Will My High School Respond?
Will successive administrations of my high school finally stop acting like teenage girl cliques and start celebrating successes equally?
Will they stop expecting adult women to wear mental and emotional uniforms?
Will they respect my equal right to join the Facebook group for my class year?
Will they finally realize that celebrating successes equally gives all alumnae equal reasons to donate money?
I will write updates about anything my high school does or does not do in response to this blog post.
Just between you and me, I think my high school assumed that their intentional inequality
of denying me membership in my class Facebook group would make me disappear.
Because my high school invites men to make women disappear, I refuse to disappear.
The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate
2018, page 110
Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference
Paula M. Kramer
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All rights reserved.
Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks or months.
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