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Leadership Gender Bias

Exclusive: Over 80% of Women Leaders in Education Experience Bias, Survey Shows

One leader quoted in the first-of-its-kind report said she was told to wear a skirt instead of pants so she didn’t “come off as intimidating.”

By Linda Jacobson

March 19, 2024

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At 5 feet tall, Uyen Tieu doesn’t tower over anyone, including many students. So when a superior said she was too petite to be anything but an elementary school principal, she figured he was probably right.

“I accepted it, because I didn’t know any better,” said Tieu, who didn’t find encouragement from her own Vietnamese family either. “My father was like, ‘Oh, I’m so surprised that they selected you to be the principal.’ ”

A decade later, Tieu has not only been an assistant principal and principal, she’s now in charge of student support services for the Houston Independent School District — the eighth-largest school system in the U.S. But as an Asian woman and a single mother, she still feels pressure to prove herself in a male-dominated field.

“I spend double the time to make sure that everything I produce is 100% — nothing less,” she said.

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