I go to a girls’ school. Our teachers teach us to live with a certain self-righteousness: they feed this righteousness by introducing us to more and more of the successful women who were able to break the boundaries of social expectations that came with our gender. Every year, we found ourselves wading deep into women oriented projects, and after essays, paintings, puppets, monologues, and photographs that emerged from these projects, I grew to love and admire women including Gwendolyn Brooks, E. Nesbit, Lynda Barry, Cindy Sherman, and Carol Miller. Sure, we know of the extreme social restraints forced upon women. Half of our English reading assignments, such as The Awakening and The Doll House, echo this. Our history classes never fail to remind us of worldwide authority figures raping and murdering women to emphasize their power. Rosalind Franklin, according to our biology class, was the rightful discoverer that DNA was formed as a double-helix.
But today, when I sat in a lecture here at Sci|Art among a majority of females, I couldn’t conceptualize the idea of women still being underrepresented in the arts and sciences. I have been bombarded with the statistics that women are gaining eminence in the workforce; although women only make up for 46.5% of the U.S. labor force, the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Women in the Labor Force 2008” states “Women accounted for 50.8 percent of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations.” I, like my fellow girl school students, grew weary, almost offended at the question, “What do these names have in common?” posed by Victoria Vesna. But it intrigued me – this was no girl power exclusive environment that I have grown to love – there was no lack of testosterone. The argument I have heard over and over had suddenly solidified – the gender crisis is real, and even though I find myself to participate in classes practically dominated by brilliant girls, this inequality is in no way over. I thought of the people I considered my heroes. On the top of my head, I could not name one female composer, one female architect, or one female physicist. Although my favorite cartoonists, cellists, and poets happen to be women, most have no chance in a world where only the stereotypical white man is welcome to become a household name.
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