Letter to the President 2.0

The New Age of Feminism – STEM

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to talk to you about the big, scary “f” word – feminism. No it’s not a nasty word, it’s not a scary word but it is a very big word and one that is extremely important. As an educator of young girls, I feel it is extremely important to unpack this word and use it for the positive, rather than the negative connotation that it has recently been prescribed.

Let’s start with what Feminism is not. Feminism is not about man-hating. Feminism is not about winning. Supporting Feminism does not make a female less attractive or womanly. Feminism is simply the idea that both sexes, men and women, have and deserve equal rights. While some may believe that this equality has already happened, they are sadly and sorely mistaken. With women only making 78 cents to the dollar as their male counterparts, we must do better as a nation to support our women.

However, all of this goes beyond just monetary pay. Feminism is the inherent idea that women deserve the same rights as men, both in school and in life. So many girls are told in this country that they can’t be or do what it is they want because it will be considered “un-lady like”. As a teacher this is just unacceptable. I want to instill in all my students that they can be whatever they want when they grow up, that biological sex has nothing to do with their interests, passions and desires. And yet, where are all the women in certain fields of study? Why is it that women are still underrepresented in areas that are crucial to our nation, such as STEM?

As a late elementary school teacher I look at the science and math curriculum and all I see is evidence of a male dominated field. From the geologists in our earth science textbook to the mathematician on the front cover of our math book, (Albert Einstein, a great mathematician) so much of the field is dominated by men. In the news and in the media, girls are told that math, science and engineering (STEM subjects) are all just for the boys. As president I feel it is your responsibility to help change this notion. You need to recognize the importance of women in these fields so that other young girls can see themselves as important and equally capable of such careers. By the time young girls reach college age, only 0.4% of girls major in some kind of computer science (girlswhocode.org). And in the engineering field the statistics are not much better. In chemical engineering the field consists of only 16% females, and in civil engineering it is even lower at only 12%!

As president you must look for ways to encourage and fund more projects to get girls into these fields and believe that they are capable. You need to help sponsor academic and monetary grants for women to break into the STEM field and show the value of feminism. Companies like L’Oréal are creating grants such as the Women in Science Fellowship that awards $60,000 to qualified women to study and research in the field of STEM (US News and World Report).

My young female students deserve to know that they are just as capable as their male classmates and that they should be proud to hold such a high and respectable job as a scientist or engineer. You as president must stand up for feminism and support women in science, not only for the betterment of our female population, but for the betterment of the country as a whole. Young girls are capable of making the U.S. rise to the top of the academic charts again, and it is your job as president to see to it that girls are supported in these fields.

Citations:

Camera, Lauren. “Women Still Underrepresented in STEM Fields.” U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, 21 Oct. 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

“The State of STEM Education in 10 Statistics.” Tech Rocket. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

Reflection:

I found that I really enjoyed writing this letter. While I will fully admit that I am not a fan of the current president, I felt it was cathartic in a way to express some of my anger and frustration about a topic towards someone that will not respond. In a way writing this letter was a great way to get out all my frustrations in a safe space; I could say what I wanted to say while knowing that my intended audience will not actually read (nor even care to read based upon his prior actions) what I wrote.

However, I can see this type of project being very meaningful and helpful for my students in class. I would love to have my students choose a topic of their choice and just write their thoughts down about it. They can choose a topic they are passionate about (because passion and interest builds engagement and motivation) and just write to whoever they feel may listen or care. While I know my letter will never get answered, I would love for my students to write to someone that they think may be able to make a difference. Finding mentors and allies in our work makes us more connected individuals and makes us even more passionate and motivated.

I think this type of writing also builds equity within a classroom because there is no right or wrong answer. When there is student choice involved, the playing field is much more even. Also, when writing to someone that can make a difference, students can begin to see a real-world context to their learning, building upon their engagement in class and the equity within the classroom. When students see that their actions and ideas can actually be implemented by themselves (with the help of others) they start to see a value in their own education and value is one of the most important things to building equity within a classroom. When all students see and feel valued, all students are capable of success.

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