Some of you may know that I went to an all-girls school for six years of my academic career. From 7th grade through 12th grade I was lucky enough to attend Castilleja School. It was 6 years in a very small school, with a uniform, in an all girls environment. Sometimes when I tell people about Castilleja their immediate reaction is, “oh poor you, your parents were mean, huh?” They also often assume that all-girls schools = religious schools. Castilleja was not a punishment inflicted upon me by my parents. It is not a religious school. It is a tremendous academic institution that is committed to giving girls a leg up in the world by promoting women in leadership, women in science, women in math, women in sports, etc. It prepared me for life in ways that I continue to appreciate, even now, as a 35-year old wife, mother of 2, and technology CEO.
I remember being at Princeton for college and hearing other female students groan and complain about gender inequities in academia. I remember female classmates saying they had a hard time speaking up in class, or talking to professors or teaching aides — and blaming those issues on being female. I never felt this way at Princeton. EVER. I felt confident in my academics as a person – and never really thought about whether my perceptions or experiences were different, because I am a girl. As I think back on why the difference between me and many of my female classmates at Princeton, I have to put the credit on Castilleja. They produced a confident, well-educated woman, well positioned for anything Princeton threw at me. What’s more, I think it is the basis of what has made me successful in an industry and in a position that is dominated by men.
So what’s my point? It turns out that research shows the girls’ school graduates have an edge. Seriously we do. The research says we do. Go ahead and check it out yourself. So thank you Castilleja! Thank you for educating me in such an all-round way, and ingraining into me that I could do anything. Because now, here I am in a male-dominated world, as the CEO of a high-technology company, confident that I can do anything. Now if there were only something to help me through the working-mommy guilt — all my problems would be solved. Well, not really, but it’s nice to think that way! 😉