Throughout my life, I’ve been told I can’t do something because I am a girl, I can’t be valedictorian because I wasn’t smart enough, or that I couldn’t become class president. This ideology was burned into my brain, completely contradicting the ideology that my parents had instilled, which was, that I could do anything.
However, it was hard believing that I could do anything, when I had no role models. All the large CEOs were male. If you looked at a Fortune 500 magazine, there was a large chance the person on the cover was going to be male. There were no female directors at the Oscars, and rarely any female cinematographers or set designers or producers. Women were not making the news for creating revolutionary websites or technology. In addition to the lack of role models in my time, in school, we were not taught about women who made history. We learned about Christopher Columbus, Henry Francis Drake, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King Jr, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rene Descartes, Plato and even dictators like Hitler.
These names all have one thing in common, they were men, and we learned that they changed history. Further perpetuating the idea that only men had the ability to change the world, and shape history.
You can imagine what this did to a young girl’s psyche. As I grew, I went to a school where my science teacher was a woman and she encouraged us to show interest in fields that interested us. One day, I went to a science competition (where I didn’t answer any questions because I was afraid of being wrong) and I was the only girl on my team. I looked at all the other teams, they had maybe one token girl on their team, everyone else was a boy. In fact, my science teacher (who accompanied us on this trip) was one of the only female science or math teachers there. This shocked me, to say the least. Why were there not more girls around? While I have no definitive answer to this question, I talked to my classmates, who told me that they didn’t feel like they were smart enough so they didn’t apply themselves, especially in science and math fields. I live in a very open and liberal area of the United States, in fact, I am surrounded by technology and science due to where I live, and this problem of girls feeling inadequate was strikingly prominent. I can only imagine what it would be like outside of the little bubble I live in.
This year, I am starting to work on the Gold Award, the most prestigious award in girl scouts. My project is called Women in work, (empowering the women of tomorrow) aimed to encouraging girls to assert and insert themselves into academic conversations and give them the courage to pursue whatever field they want to. While most of the project is still in the planning phase, we hope that through a website, book and even documentary filled with real life role models, their stories and accomplishments, we can help young girls feel like they can conquer anything and instill the ideology that some parents, teachers and other adults around the world are trying so hard to perpetuate. I believe that we can begin shaping younger generations of girls to believe in themselves academically, and once they believe in themselves, they’ll be able to do anything.
At the moment, Empower Girls is still mostly in the planning phase, and a website as well as workshops are in the works. Once they are in the revealment stage, I will link the website as well as any contact information you would need to become involved in the project, and the overall movement. As for now, you may contact me at email@example.com with any questions, comments and concerns. Together, we can create a national and maybe even global movement to encourage girls to be confident in themselves academically and create lasting change, shaping the women of tomorrow.
You can find out more about Ananya on her author page.