Horgan: It's a woman's world in San Mateo County public education

Throughout Silicon Valley, there has been a clarion call heralding the need for more women in key positions in the private sector. Issues of gender fairness and a salary gap have become watchwords in the Land of Tech.

From the evidence presented, local public education has become, in many important ways, a woman’s world. A prime example can be found in the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, the largest in the county.

There, the directory notes that the superintendent, all three assistant superintendents, 16 of 20 principals and three of four trustees (one vacancy is listed) are females.

This wasn’t always the case. Nearly 30 years ago, the countywide statistics were essentially reversed. The Office of Education’s data in 1989-90 show that the preponderance of public school leadership was male: 15 of 23 superintendents, 92 of 153 principals and 62 of 115 trustees.

Why? Anne Campbell, San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools, said it’s not entirely clear. “Maybe it’s because this area is more open-minded generally,” she said last week.

Noting that the trend toward female education leadership shows no sign of slacking off (five of six new local superintendents are women), Campbell speculated that, perhaps, women who ascend to positions of authority tend to hire more females.

That might be the case in the San Mateo-Foster City district, she said. “That district has had three female superintendents in a row,” she pointed out.

In 1989-90, the district was male-dominated; the superintendent was a man, along with 12 of 16 principals and three of five trustees. Times have changed.

Height of chutzpah

That recent police report out of Burlingame has to be the absolute height of chutzpah. According to the gendarmes, a rather bold woman grabbed cash from a restaurant tip jar, then ordered food and paid for it with that same stolen money; as a capper, she then demanded a refund for the food. “Excuse me, ma’am, are you claiming that’s a fly in your brie or are you just asking for another helping on the house?”

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Day of the Dead

Creative minds at work, Exhibit A: Skylawn Memorial Park, a cemetery located at the top of Highway 92 at the intersection with Skyline Boulevard, will celebrate the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) Nov. 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attractions will include religious services, music, dancing, a free lunch and sugar skull decorations for children.

Son of Jaws

Best San Mateo County public entity press release headline of the year so far: “Caltrain throws fans to the Sharks.” Yep, the latest National Hockey League season is cranking up.

John Horgan’s column appears weekly in the Mercury News. He can be contacted by email at johnhorganmedia@gmail.com or by regular mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011.

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