To quote an extremely overused phrase, “Monkey see, monkey do.” When children see people who look like them, speak the same language as them, have the same sexual orientation as they do, or grew up in the same area as them holding positions in varying career paths, it allows them to see their future-selves in those positions. It opens doors in the imagination that some people don’t realize were previously locked.
Think of a profession you aspire to go into. Do you think that you can achieve that goal? If no, have you ever seen someone similar to you with that career? Most often, the answer to the second question will be no. For the majority it is comforting to know that someone before you, to who you can relate, has achieved your goals.
Have you ever noticed how few non-white faculty we have in the Lowell Public School System? According to a Lowell Sun article from 2019, over 91% of staff and 77% of paraprofessionals in LPS are white. On the other hand, 69% of LPS students were non-white in 2019. Statistically speaking, this means that there will most likely be significantly more white students in our district who want to become teachers than non-white students who wish to do so.
Representation is key and not just racially. Think of how empowered you had felt when you heard the words “The first female to…” or “The first LGBTQ+ community member to…” or “The first openly transgender man [or women] to…” or any phrase that you have heard which relayed someone in a common group as you who was the first to do something. Imagine what our society’s progression could be next. Even if just a few diversification measures are put into place in each pathway, imagine how much society could progress. It could become a truly equal opportunity system if people are given a chance to see representation, and just as importantly, fair treatment in all career paths.