“Girls can’t do math.”



     I have always identified as a feminist. As a child, I played with Barbies and Hot Wheels alike. My prized possession was my telescope. My friends and family knew that I hated the dichotomy of “boy toys” and “girl toys.” When I was in 6th grade, I frequently made it to the end of the math and science competitions, and it was only then that I was told, “Girls aren’t good at math.” I was really, really angry when my peers tried to tell me that I shouldn’t be beating the boys at math. I just could not understand why I should be put down for doing the same things that my male friends were doing. I made every effort to do my best and show that girls can do math and science as well.

When I went to an all-girls high school, I discovered that we weren’t being directly put down for doing well in Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, but we did not have the ability to take advanced STEM classes. We were offered various humanities AP classes; however, there was only one AP math class, and I was unsatisfied. I took it upon myself and my relationships with my teachers and peers, as well as using my position as class president to organize a variety of advanced classes. I would call this the beginning of my identification as an activist. At the end of my junior year, we were given a choice: would the school offer AP Biology or AP Environmental Science? I was proud to know that my interest and the interests of my friends could incite change in the school’s curriculum.

After I left, the school adopted an entire STEM curriculum and Medical Exploration Program, no doubt because of demands from the young women attending. Now that I am in college, I see that there is usually a 1:5 ratio of women to men in my physics classes. My goal as an activist is to help young girls who want to do science and math to be able to accomplish their goals without dealing with society telling them that it is so much harder because “girls just aren’t good at math.”


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