Women’s History Month 2012: Myra Sadker

18 Mar

Myra Sadker

The late Dr. Myra Sadker is probably best known for the book she wrote with her husband David Sadker, Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls.  Myra dedicated her life to advocating for girls and educating people about gender bias in the classroom.

Sadly, in my 20 plus  years in education, I have found Myra’s observations regarding gender bias still true today.  Myra was a pioneer who challenged gender bias and inequities.  She specifically addressed the subtle gender bias that occurs in classrooms every day. Myra provided the research that documented gender bias in America’s schools, “…from grade school through graduate school, from inner cities to rural towns.” Myra uncovered not only blatant gender discrimination in textbooks and sports funding, but also subtle inequities that shaped the way students were taught.  For example, how boys, or male students are called on six times more than girls.

As someone who helped to found a Girls’ School, I still see the need for secular single sex education.  Perhaps I see a secular non-sectarian Girls’ School starting in Portland, Oregon by a social worker from Portland State University in the next two years.

Sadly, Dr. Myra Sadker died from breast cancer in 1995.  Thankfully, the work she did lives on and inspires many to address gender inequities and power distribution. Thank you, Dr. Myra Sadker. Click here if you would like to learn more about Myra Sadker.

10 Responses to “Women’s History Month 2012: Myra Sadker”

  1. nevercontrary March 18, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Please tell me that you are starting a new girls school and you want me to come and help!!!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 18, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      I have to confess, I really would like to start another girls’ school in Portland with a focus on social justice. Interested?

      • nevercontrary March 18, 2012 at 11:17 am #

        Yes, yes, yes. We have been discussing for weeks the serious need for a move out of here. And double plus I want to be doing something in education where it matters.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 18, 2012 at 11:21 am #

        Bonnie, I will definitely keep you in the loop and right now I’m trying to see the feasibility of starting a secular girls’ school here in Portland.

      • nevercontrary March 18, 2012 at 11:28 am #

        Sounds good! Let me know if I can help in any way. I helped start a ISA school my first year teaching, and now am at an episcopal school. So I have some connections within those communities. It seems as though we are going to have to become real life friends soon.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 18, 2012 at 11:55 am #

        Bonnie, I would love to meet and talk about conducting a feasibility study for the metro Portland area.

  2. Jay March 19, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    While cognizant of the many challenges women face in education, I feel it is worthwhile to note that men, for many years now, have been significantly lagging behind women in educational attainment. To cite but one example, in the national longitudinal study of youth that began in 1997, 23% of women had attained a bachelor’s degree by age 23, as compared to 14% of men. That’s a 60% gap.


    I know that you are particularly interested in the problems and challenges faced by women and girls, Michael, but I urge you to investigate educational attainment differences between men and women in the African American community. Things are particularly stark in that community, but the same trends you will see in that data applies in milder forms to other ethnic and racial groups: educational disparities are growing, with women and girls performing better, and men and boys performing worse–and the gap has been growing, to the advantage of females, for many years now.

    Which is not to say that choosing to focus on girls’ education is wrong. Far from it. But make that choice fully aware that if there’s an educational crisis based on gender, it is among boys, particularly African American boys.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 19, 2012 at 5:47 am #

      Your comment is certainly passionate, and I would maintain there are many intersections of oppression that need to be addressed. Being Women’s History Month, I felt and still do feel it is quite appropriate to honor Myra Sadker.

      • Jay March 19, 2012 at 8:48 am #

        My comment was not on point with Ms. Sadker, and I intended no disrespect. Apologies for veering off-topic, and also for implying that girls’ education is not a matter of great concern, because I definitely believe that it is.

        But you are correct that the problem of boys’ education is a particular concern of mine. The gap with girls in reading at grade level, to cite but one example, is quite large, and I strongly believe that school reading lists should consciously include ‘boy-friendly’ titles to help to address this gap in achievement.

        If I’m going to be off-topic, I may as well dive in completely and mention another passion of mine: the particular struggles of foster kids. Children who spend at least six months in foster care face enormous challenges, which can be seen in the data regarding their educational attainment.

        If you’re looking for intersections of oppression, consider those kids whose families are so dysfunctional that the state must remove them from their homes.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm #


        You passionately and very accurately point to just several intersections of oppression. I’m very glad this is a shared passion and very glad you bring it to the attention of people reading this blog. The intersections of (what I fear is intentional oppression) are too many to list here, but suffice to say that we must look at creating a level playing field in education, specifically for young boys of color.

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