Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Women's Achievement

I think the idea brought up in About 50/50 that has to do with shifting the focus from scarcity to abundance of women’s accomplishments is a very unique perspective. In our society today, we tend to focus on how women are not given equal opportunities that men have to make great accomplishments. Mrs. Kingsbury’s presentation made me realize that despite the barriers for women that create this inequality, many women have still made some amazing contributions to society. For example, prior to the presentation, I was assigned to research Dr. Grace Murray Hopper. She was a computer scientist that also served in the US Navy, and was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, inventing the first compiler for a computer programming language. Her legacy involves encouraging young people to learn how to program. For example, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference encourages young women in particular to become a part of the world of computing. In 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama to recognize her “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” I think that Hopper’s contribution in the computer science field is very admirable, because even today, men greatly outnumber women in this particular field. According to Computer Science.org, when looking at students who take the AP Computer Science exam, boys outnumber girls 4:1. It is not just computer science that this is the case, though. Most fields that fall under math or science tend to be male-dominated. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, males were more likely to take courses such as engineering and computer science, as well as  advanced placement courses such as calculus BC, physics B and physics C. I can speak personally to this, because during my junior year, I took both calculus BC and physics B. In my calculus BC class, I was one out of two girls in a class of about 15-20 people. I was also one out of two girls who took physics B, a course that Govs had two sections of that year. According to some research done by the New York Times, the inequality of gender in math and science continues well into our adult years, with women of equal qualifications getting a starting salary on average that is set $4,000 lower than male counterparts. I plan on studying neuroscience in college, and hope to someday work in research. As a young woman who hopes to work in the science field someday, the inequality in these particular fields is extremely troubling to me. But, as the documentary pointed out, if I look at abundance rather than scarcity and see women such as Dr. Grace Murray Hopper who have made contributions, I know that being a successful woman in the field of science is not entirely impossible. However, as Ms. Kingsbury concluded in her presentation, although there have been numerous women who have had amazing accomplishments, we still have a long way to go before equality is fully achieved.

Another part of Mrs. Kingsbury’s presentation that stood out in my mind was the clip she played from the red carpet interview. I had never realized there was such a drastic difference in the interviews done between men and women. Men are often asked about their role in a movie and the work they’ve done, while women are asked questions about their appearance, such as who the designer of their dress is. This is an extreme double-standard that exists. Girls are always concerned about their appearance how others perceive them. A common conversation that I have with many of my friends who are girls is about a picture they want to post. They are always questioning how to filter it, how many likes it will get, and if they even look good enough in the photo to post it. I do the same thing. This is something that I have never witnessed a boy expressing concern over. It provides evidence to how, as Mrs. Kingsbury pointed out, that it is not just males forcing women to be overly concerned with our appearances, but that we participate in and create this culture, as well. While there are many great women who we can look up and aspire to, such as Kathrine Switzer, who was the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon, or Dorothy Vaughan, who Mrs. Kingsbury said was considered one of NASA’s greatest minds, there is still a long way to go before women are truly equal to men. Change takes a long time to happen, as can be noted by the 70 year difference between Seneca Falls and the 19th amendment, but hopefully with increasing numbers of women standing up to double standards and inequality, such as the US Women’s Ice Hockey team earning themselves better deals and salaries, this change will come sooner rather than later.

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