Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/705/

Gender discrimination in education field

I started out as vice principal at Hilo Intermediate because they had opened up a certification program and I went through that and I passed it so I became the vice principal of Hilo Intermediate at age 29 I think. And then I was there for 8 years while my daughter was growing up. And then I became…I applied for principalship and the only thing they would give me was to be a principal of small elementary schools and of course during those days in 1960s, early ‘60s, there was still this feeling that women were not the main breadwinners. For example, they said, “You know, you’re not the main breadwinner of your family and we have to keep the jobs for the main breadwinners.” So the only thing they offered me was to be a principal of 3 elementary schools at one time and to close one of the schools at the end of the year.

And so I was sort of upset but I went to them and told Glen, “You know, I think I’m going to show them”. So he says, “Go for it.” So I became principal. My first job as principal was to take care of 3 schools and then to close one of the schools which I did.

And then on top of that, because I’m a secondary person, the personnel officer from Honolulu came and said, “You know Margaret, you have secondary teaching certification and to be a principal of an elementary school, you have to have elementary certification. So can you teach one hour per day for one semester?” Which I did in addition. And I taught, of course, mathematics to special ed students, which wasn’t bad at all.


discrimination gender interpersonal relations

Date: May 31, 2006

Location: Hawai‘i, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Dr. Margaret Oda was born on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, in Wailea. A Nisei, her parents were Japanese immigrants from Hiroshima. Her father worked on a sugar cane farm where he eventually became the Wailea Milling Company’s vice president.

She received her Master’s degree in Mathematics at Michigan State University, and later her Doctorate of Education from the University of Hawai‘i at Manōa in 1977. She started her teaching career in 1951 rising to positions as vice principal and principal at several public elementary and high schools throughout Hawai‘i. Dr. Oda later served as Deputy Superintendent for the State of Hawai‘i Department of Education for three years and twice served as Honolulu District Superintendent in the 1980s. She remained in the administration realm of public education until her retirement in the late 1990s.

Dr. Oda is known for her philanthropic work in the field of education. She has served on community organization boards such as the Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. She is the past chair of the Museum's Hawai‘i Advisory Committee. Dr. Oda currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum. (April 6, 2007)

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