I am a member and head of the medical group in FemStem—a club in which high school girls mentor middle school girls and help them pursue their STEM passions. A few weeks ago as I was teaching middle school girls how to suture, I had a sincere awakening. In the moment, I identified two distinctly different types of girls.
The first type of girl are the ones whose faces would light up with joy, excitement, curiosity, and passion. In a way, I saw a younger version of myself in them. They were engaging—asking questions and staying later to continue suturing.
However, no matter how many times I tried to voice the fact that suturing is an exceptionally difficult task to master, the second type of girl became increasingly disheartened and discouraged when she would make even the smallest mistake. Eventually, this type of girl would just give up.
Society teaches girls from a young age that it is okay to give up—that we do not need to try or work hard because science is for boys. Studies have shown that girls are subtly discouraged from pursuing STEM because it is traditionally seen as a masculine field of interest. This cannot be considered acceptable in 2018.
The sole purpose of feminism is advocating for women’s rights on the basis of gender equality. It is about reminding girls that they cannot give up, and that we will not let them give up. Activism is about standing together—helping each other accomplish the change we wish to see in the world. We can help the second type of girl become the first type, and help both to flourish and pursue whatever dreams they desire—STEM or not.