NYC Is the First to Hire an Equity Coordinator; Here's Why Your City Needs One

New York City hired a gender equity coordinator to ensure that the public school programs and curriculums are equal.

New York City will be the first city to do this with their pick for hire: Kimberly Shannon.

"The greatest need for my role is focusing on the most marginalized populations. That's something we’re committed to at the DOE. I've been really moved at how many organizations and schools are eager to work with me," Shannon, who took the position two months ago, told DNAInfo.

Shannon will be ensuring that there will be equal representation in career technical programs or STEM classes in the city's 1,800 schools. She will also ensure that pregnant students and teen moms receive enough attention from their respective schools and teachers, as well as focus on eradicating gender based violence, DNAInfo reports. She will also be focusing on ways to create empowering environments for young girls, transgender and gender non-conforming students, working with the DOE's liaison for LGBTQ students.

"I'm building partnerships with community-based organizations, other city agencies and DOE employees and parents," Shannon told DNAInfo.

She plans to first focus on students in temporary housing, students of color, and those students with disabilities.

"The peer educators do great work in schools and connect with students on a deep level," Shannon said. "We talked not only about emotional abuse but also technological abuse. That’s why it's important to bring in the peer educators. Things are evolving every day with how technology is used."

Shannon has already begun her work by creating a day where guidance counselors and social workers will collaborate on tackling intimate partner violence.

She also set up a women's history panel to honor Women's History Month where she will be hosting at the Ed Department's Tweed headquarters speaking about those under-recognized women and transgender individuals who have accomplished great things.

Joseph Cimpian, associate professor of economics and education policy at NYU Steinhardt, focuses on gender equality research and found that when comparing test scores and teachers' perceptions, the achievement gap begins to widen post-kindergarten when teachers — female ones more than male — underrate girls' abilities, DNAInfo reports.

"Because of that, girls are falling behind. The teachers may not be aware of some of the biases they have," Cimpian told DNAInfo.

Cimpian credits the female teachers' own personal phobia of subjects that transfers onto their students.

"We probably need to raise the level of math knowledge and confidence of early education teachers," he said. "That would go a long way in helping gender equity."

Cimpian hopes that the presence of Shannon will serve as a role model for other cities to do the same.

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