Winsor DEI Plan: “External publications and communications have moved away from using ‘she, her, hers’’ and ‘your daughter,’ replacing the former with ‘they, them, theirs’ and the latter with ‘student’ …. Faculty and staff are discouraged from addressing groups of students as ‘girls’ and ‘ladies.’”
“Empowering girls to lead lives of purpose” is featured on The Winsor School home page.
The elite Boston private school is a mainstay atop of national rankings. Almost one-third of Winsor graduates go on to attend Ivy League universities. Tuition is $53,900 per year.
The slide show on the home page begins showing pictures of girls in grades 5-12 walking around Winsor’s beautiful and cozy Boston campus. Another picture displays a young girl reading material from her MacBook in an academic lounge and continues with pictures of a few girls studying in classrooms or working in what appears to be a science lab.
There’s a picture showing the recently crowned 2021 New England championship winning field hockey team. Everything about Winsor’s website presentation is embodied in that homepage message, “Empowering girls to lead lives of purpose.”
Winsor is an all-girls school. Why? The answer is found in the school’s Strategic Vision: “The Winsor School’s mission is to educate girls to be intellectually curious, motivated, and generous-minded.” Mary Pickard Winsor started the private all-girls Boston school in 1886. She wrote the message in the school’s graduate directory, “if women are in these days to be self-respecting they must also have it within their power to be self-supporting.” Her vision was pure and logical. The purpose of all-girls education is, and has always been, to raise women to be self-sustaining while also allowing themselves to become confident in who they are as women.
The efficacy of Miss Winsor’s vision has been asserted by a variety of studies. UCLA social scientist Linda Sax writes that a “majority of girls’ school grads report higher self-confidence over their coed peers.” They also transform into competitive, confident human beings that are comfortable using their femininity to lead in prestigious careers. The Goodman Research Group, a Boston consulting group, found that “Girls’ school grads are 6 times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology compared to girls who attend coed schools.”
“Although Winsor remains in its mission a school for “young women to pursue their aspirations and contribute to the world,” the school recognizes the importance of inclusive language.”
The plan goes on to say that “[e]xternal publications and communications have moved away from using “she, her, hers’’ and “your daughter,” replacing the former with “they, them, theirs” and the latter with “student” (emphasis added):
Although Winsor remains in its mission a school for “young women to pursue their aspirations and contribute to the world,” the school recognizes the importance of inclusive language. Winsor has, for example, adopted changes to its use of gendered language and pronouns to be more inclusive. External publications and communications have moved away from using “she, her, hers’’ and “your daughter,” replacing the former with “they, them, theirs” and the latter with “student.” Sensitivity is also paid to family structure. In Admission, for example, interviews are now called the “Adult family member interview” instead of the “Parent/guardian interview.” Faculty and staff are discouraged from addressing groups of students as “girls” and “ladies,” and teachers address students by their preferred pronouns.
*For a specific example of how a specific department is addressing inclusive language, consult the appendices.
The referenced Appendix C provides specific examples of how degendered language already is in use and being implemented at Winsor (emphasis added):
Faculty and staff are discouraged from addressing groups of students as “girls” and “ladies,” and teachers are more regularly in the practice of asking students privately about their preferred pronouns. The Athletics department is revising its handbook to instruct coaches to avoid addressing student athletes in gender binary ways.
Departments have worked together to ensure that inclusive language exists in course materials created by the teacher. The English Department has agreed to a policy that prohibits the use of hateful language in any context. As stated in the Class I course description, “At times, our texts may contain racialized or hurtful language towards particular marginalized groups. Even if it is printed in our texts, we will not speak any hateful language in our classroom. Discussions are planned carefully, with a focus on understanding historical context and the role of antiracism, and they are handled in developmentally appropriate ways.” The department has also decide change the grammar curriculum and writing assessment criteria to accept “they” as a singular pronoun.
As another example, the science department lab and eye safety letter was updated to include nongendered language. All science faculty are encouraged to do so in course policies and expectations as well as any other course documents.
In Advancement, every publication is considered through a DEI lens. A few examples include sensitivity and understanding around marketing materials, posters, website images, publications like the Bulletin, donor appeals, volunteer handbooks, event invitations, etc.
Consistent with the DEI Plan, in recent school communications I obtained, the school avoids calling girls ‘girls’, instead calling them ‘students’ or ‘children.’
On its website, however, Winsor continues to promote the school as for “girls,” showing that the school still wants the reputational benefits of being labeled an “all-girls” school, as internally it seeks to do away with “girls” as a term.
There are many issues with trying to degender the language used at Winsor, starting with the fact that it now undermines the very point of an all-girls’ school.
Forget, for a moment, the obvious question about whether the use of inclusive language, including transgender pronouns, logically means the school should start admitting biological men (other “all-girls” institutions have now done just that). We don’t have to even go that far to see where this road towards “inclusivity” will likely lead.
Let’s talk about the building of self-confidence of girls as girls. One of the motivations of Mary Pickard Winsor to start an all-girls’ school was the feeling that women needed to find an environment independent of the prejudice and condescension of female talents that had pervaded her time. That motivation is carried over today, with the current President Sarah Pelmas noting that “We’re in a world where girls and women are still fighting for so many things.”
Instead of trying to make a murky mess of “de-gendering” Winsor, why not draw upon the vast literature of social science that has studied girls’ achievement and teaching practices related specifically to the needs of women and implement those practices instead?
Winsor School’s DEI Plan and determination to blur the school’s central mission should raise concern for every reasonable parent who wishes to send their daughter to a school truly committed to engendering the kind of self-respecting, empowered woman they hope to raise at an all-girls school. The school’s Board should consider long and hard whether they truly want the school to go in this direction.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.