Before the Neolithic Revolution, men and women were living in hunter and gathering societies, with little or no social inequality. However, due to the introduction of agriculture, humans worldwide found more time and began to specialize in different types of labor. This formed social classes, leading to social inequality. With this social inequality also came gender inequality, with men being valued over women, both physically and mentally for some tasks, while the opposite for others. Although this injustice began more than three thousand years ago, these social inequalities and classes continue to exist today.
With problems always come solutions; students from our district have found ways to combat gender inequality, manifesting their passions and time to take action. Some prime examples of student efforts related to this cause include the five different clubs from Milpitas High School: GirlUp, She’s the First, STEMgirls, I am that girl, and Girls Who Code. It is important to note that even though these clubs have been centered in Milpitas High School, many of them branch out to elementary and middle school through various programs.
These students are putting in much of their time and effort, and it is important to know their rationale. Why is gender equality important? Why should we be aware of the problem, and try to prevent it? How can I help fight for gender equality? I decided to ask the students themselves the questions. Here are some of their responses:
Loan-Anh Pham (grade 12), president of GirlUp shared her thoughts: “Working to prevent gender inequality can equate to a girl in Afghanistan receiving her education, which in turn will brighten her future! Or it could mean a woman seeking opportunity and fulfillment outside of her home, a woman pursuing a career in STEM or literature. Working to prevent gender inequality simply means bringing more opportunities for women and girls to reach their potential everywhere: it's time for more SHEROES out there!”
Shivali Gulati (grade 10), president of Girls Who Code voiced her concerns: “A lack of gender equality can negatively affect imperative parts of a female’s life, such as increased discrimination in the workplace. We should be aware of the problem because increased gender inequality stops women from accessing the same opportunities as men, which prevents women from contributing to modern society both academically and socially. You can help fight for gender equality [by] promoting the cause on social media, supporting female organizations in your community, like Girls Who Code, and standing up if you know women in your community are facing gender inequality.”
Tran Le (grade 11), president of STEMgirls described the social need for gender equality: “With half of the world population being female, it is crucial that every aspect of society receives the same representation. Gender equality is imperative for a society where both genders enjoy the same opportunities and rights. You can help create this society by joining STEMgirls' mission to empower more girls to pursue a future in STEM.”
Vibha Sastry (grade 11), president of She’s the First contributed her opinion: “Gender equality is important because the equal participation of both genders is important in a balanced society. Gender equality is essential in order for society to progress and has been linked to many benefits in society such as less violence, economic growth, etc. It is important to be aware of gender inequality so that we can move away from outdated, restrictive, and sexist traditions that continue to persist within our society. Anyone can fight for gender equality simply by thinking more about their actions and words. Keeping an open mind and being a little more pensive about daily interactions can contribute to achieving gender equality.”
Merilyn Kuo (grade 11), officer of I am that girl responded with a logical approach: “Especially today, in the modern world, since both men and women are capable of performing the same tasks at the same level of skill, biological differences should not determine one gender’s inferiority to another. Throughout history, gender roles and stereotypes have been enforced, but we are living in a new society where women are transcending gender roles and breaking gender stereotypes. In order to become a more inclusive society, we should be aware that a person’s gender does not limit their ability and that inside the outward appearance we see, is a human, with the potential to make an impact in this world and thriving just like everybody else. ”
After reading through these responses, I want to conclude the article by saying we are very lucky to be a stakeholder in the Milpitas Unified School District. What other district has five clubs dedicated to gender equity? Our district has an excess amount of students willing to challenge ideas and stand up to injustice. Our students are fighting to eliminate social and gender norms, proving they are upstanders, changing society for the better. They are doing their part. Are you?