By Deandra Han, Jennifer Rico, Charlie Stattion, Karla Tran and Jasmine Villegas
Changes have occurred in Rainier’s culture and community compared to the previous school year. More specifically, due to the changes in staff, the school has now has a predominantly male administration; as a result, issues have arisen regarding the current amount of female representation.
In the 2018-19 school year, Rainier’s administration hired Aileen George to work as the Dean of Instruction and Culture. Ms. George contributed to the amount of female representation in the Rainier community and administration. She worked closely with various students, many of which were female.
Having Ms. George along with Lupe Trujillo, Dean of Operations, as administrators gave many female students the opportunity to come to someone who they can relate to for support when needed. Ms. George announced her departure from Rainier’s administration that the end of the 2018-19 school year. Many students, especially female students, were saddened by the news. With Ms. George’s absence came an absence in the amount of representation women of Rainier’s community would receive.
In a tribute video made at the end of the 2018-19 school year after Ms. George announced her departure, Rainier junior Lam To said, “One of my favorite memories was probably the time that we went to our first debate tournament, because even though I was really on the fence about that and I was really insecure about my own abilities, Ms. George really believed in me and she was always there to support me. That made me feel a lot more empowered and a lot more secure in a place I don’t normally feel safe.”
Mrs. Trujillo, the only current female administrator at Rainier, feels the need for more female representation in administration and community here at Rainier. When asked about whether there should be more female representation she said, “Yes: there’s definitely a need, I think again there’s just sensitive situations that come up and administrators have to deal with. There are subjects that get brought up that I think would be very hard for a lady to share certain details with a male.”
Mrs. Trujillo continued to share the impact of a female opinion in meetings and administration decisions by saying, “There are certain things that I bring up as topics of discussion that, had I not been present, they wouldn’t even been brought up. That is absolutely not to say anything negative about our male administrators, it’s just that they have never experienced some of these things. So it would be very difficult for them to bring up things that they don’t know.”
See below for a video with more perspective on this issue:
Mrs. Trujillo also mentioned how hard she has worked to try to include more female administrators and representation overall. She said, “I will do everything that I can to continue to do whatever I can to ensure that those conversations number one are happening and also we are going to reach out and tapping all of our networks for female leadership. Because I just know being in this role, working at this school for the last five years, there is a great need, and I know that the conversations, like I said, are definitely different when there is a female in that conversation, so yes, I am confident that we will continue to do so.”
Additionally, Rainier Executive Director Edwin Avarca is also working toward an overall more equal and diverse administration. More specifically, he wants to have a variety of races and genders. He said, “So, definitely female leadership is something I have been thinking about and in thinking about that I am thinking about current members of our faculty, for example. I’m thinking to myself, like, this person could do very well in a leadership position, this person is female, for example, who could do good in the leadership position.”
The lack of women in administration does not only affect the administrators, it affects the students here at Rainier as well. Female students, when needed, go to female administrators for support. Having a female administrator there for students is different from having support from a male administrator. This is because, for female students, it can be more comfortable for them to go to someone who has gone through similar situations.
Rainier junior Trinity Fa’afiti shared some reasons why increasing the number of female administrators would positively affect Rainier’s community. She said, “I think that they should because I feel like women bring just like a motherly feeling that all girls and guys, that need it at school, with all the pressure; you know, the studies, the exams and everything that we have, I feel like having more females around can bring that motherly [feeling] and like, ‘I can lend you a hand,’ type of feeling that I feel like every student should have.”
One option that is aimed to support and give more representation to girls at Rainier is an organization named “Girls Group.” Mrs. Trujillo reached out to the organization and female Rainier students in hopes of bringing it to Rainier’s community. She gave details regarding the organization by saying, “Some of our ladies are missing these strong female mentors in their life, and going through being a teenager and raising a teenager, I know that there is a time and space where you just don’t, like, get along with your mom, and that’s kind of the norm, and I think for those reasons, during that time, that it is so important for young women to have other strong females in their life who they can go to for advice.”
Administrators have heard the student voices and are working toward solutions to increase the amount of diversity in gender and race in Rainier’s administration. One solution, for example, that administrators have been discussing is assessing which faculty would be great in leadership positions, more specifically, female faculty members. They believe this could increase the diversity of administration, which could help all Rainier students feel supported.
Another possible solution Rainier administrators have worked on is the organization “Girls Group,” mentioned earlier, that aims to provide support and representation for female students, whether that be emotionally or academically.
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