Issue 11/23

The patriarchy also rules in the Waldorf system

Eva Wörner

This is most obvious when it comes to finding female authors for educational projects or female initiators for nationwide events. The male colleagues furrow their brows and say that there are hardly any women who would be ready to take this on. I will not and cannot believe it. I earn a faint smile or an annoyed shrug of the shoulders when I point out, not for the first time, that I would like to see the female perspective and approach in Waldorf schools given its due recognition. And here I am actually behind the times with my concerns, because the whole world is already talking about much more than just two genders. I had a male teacher at Waldorf school from year one to year four – a rarity. As I recall, girls and boys were always equal – I can't remember our class teacher ascribing roles to them. Towards the school-leaving exams, however, I remember that as a female pupil you got charm points and my classmates got knowledge points. Then I really wanted to become a conductor. «Out of the question», said the then director of the broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk, «that's a brutal world, not for a woman».
When my former boss passed the age of 60, he began to reduce his presence in the office. He wanted very much to leave the field to the next generation and give them room for their own ideas. I admired him a lot for that. After all, he really did become a wise old man who stood back but was happy to give advice when asked.
This is different in Waldorf circles. Male colleagues over 60 determine processes and structures, make decisions and set the direction, specify priorities and determine the topics. This is the case in many schools and also in the training centres. Patriarchal structures can mean that male colleagues take up more speaking time in meetings, that male colleagues are trusted to be more competent without knowing anything about them as a person – women usually have to prove themselves – that administrative jobs are filled by women and are less well paid. What conditions are needed for women to be able to actively participate in research questions or questions about the future of Waldorf schools? Quotas are used in politics and private business. Will we succeed in accepting and strengthening the feminine in the process even without structural requirements?


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