George Lucas Educational Foundation

Promoting Gender Equality: My 2014 Resolution

Promoting Gender Equality: My 2014 Resolution

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2013 was a year of girl power. From Jennifer Lawrence encouraging girls everywhere to love their bodies to GoldieBlox telling girls they can dream bigger to Malala Yousafzai inspiring women all over the world to support other women in the fight against female oppression.

Yes, 2013 was the year of telling women they can be and do anything they want. In 2014 I'm taking a cue from amazing female leaders around the world and their supporters and doing as Sheryl Sandberg says. I'm "leaning in" and not just into my career, but into this new age of feminism that is creating a generation of female leaders. 2014 is the year to not just tell girls and women that they can be and do anything, but that they SHOULD be and do anything.

This year I am devoting my new years resolution to supporting gender equality, education for women--both in the US and abroad--and not just supporting, but pushing women to actively shape a better world for other women.

With that in mind, I've created a variety of actionable items that each of us can to achieve this resolution:

Ensure a 50/50 gender representation for any event or program -- This may not always be possible, but if we're aware there is a gender gap for a lecture, meetup, or class, it's the first step towards fixing it. This also means that if there are more women, we should encourage men to join.
Donate to worthy (women's) causes like educating women in countries that experience great female repression -- I found Malala to be a very powerful representative of the need for more education in these countries, and I plan to donate as much time and resources as I can to this movement.
Raise gender inequality awareness by staying on top of feminist movements occurring around the world and sharing them with networks near and far.
• And lastly, support my fellow women in anything and everything they choose to strive for.

As Gloria Steinem said “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” So my question to you, the people who work closely with our future generations: How will you exhibit feminism this year? Will you push for more gender equality in your workplace, your classroom, and your home?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Becky!

I think gender equity, as much as possible with events would be great! As much as I want to see more girls coding, I'd also love to see more guys cooking, arranging flowers, volunteering at bake sales, etc. What we have to do is make sure everyone is comfortable at events, classes, etc. regardless of their traditional social gender bias, and sometimes that's going to mean taking steps to do outreach to help make sure everyone feels welcome, regardless of their gender, nationality, age, etc.

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

I like to tell everyone I can - parents, colleagues, even kids that girls some call "bossy" should instead be referred to as "leaders." I also dedicate 100% of my Kiva investing $ to female entrepreneurs. It's a start!

Becky Fisher's picture
Becky Fisher
Education Consultant

Whitney - I totally agree that promoting Gender Equality is NOT just about pushing women to succeed. I was (hopefully) careful to not just include women, but also be sure that men are aware that they are a huge part of making everything equal. I love your idea of encouraging men to try more activities that are stereotypically thought of as "female" driven, like flower-arranging, baking, etc. Just as our women can do and be anything they want, our men should have the same options!

Kevin - I think that's a great start! Just being aware of things like the idea of females being called "bossy" is important. Studies like these -
show that people actually have bias against women in fields like science and bringing awareness to the issue is an important actionable item. Also, I think supporting female entrepreneurs through Kiva is awesome. :)

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

I'm lucky to work in an environment and live in a community where striving for equity and surfacing our own biases is part of the culture, but I still struggle at times to determine what I mean when I say that I'm working for social justice- be it gender equity or environmental justice. The definitions we use are personal to our own experiences- trying to understand the experiences of those different from us can be tricky. Maybe that's where the work lies?

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Becky, I couldn't agree more with your commitment towards gender equality. As a very young teacher, it was pointed out to me that I called on boys to answer questions much more than I called on girls. That was an example of a kind of unconscious sexism that I have since tried to correct in my own practice.

Another example is the preponderance of boys in gifted and talented programs, in my experience. I think this is similar to the 'bossy' idea - boys are far more likely to be identified as 'bright'. I like your idea of ensuring 50/50 representation. I'll be working on that too.

Erin's picture

As a high school Women's Studies teacher, I love this conversation and couldn't agree more with the statements I read above. I strongly believe that women AND men should work collectively to promote gender equality in education and society. I feel the burden often times falls on the women to break the social contructs that have been ingrained in what we believe to be true about gender. We often view "gender specific' behavior as natural (aggression, anger, emotion, etc.), when we have in fact been taught these behaviors are normal. I challenge my students (male and female) every day to break the barriers of what we believe to be true about gender specific behavior and challenge our social constructions.

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