I am lucky to be born in a Western European country where men and women are equal. I have a loving family, who support me in everything I do and try to achieve.
I grew up believing sexism is awful, but could never happen to me. However, watching a TED-talk about this organisation changed my views. I started digging into my own past and detected some events I would like to share with you. I chose to share with you two events which happened to me as a teenager. This events are just words, but they were said to me by teachers in highschool. I chose these events because I believe they show how deep rooted the gender difference is in any of us, also teachers who are educated to handle teenagers and are aware of these problems.
– At the age of 16 I was a shy, not very popular nerdy person. I noticed some of my male classmates making fun of me behind my back, just loud enough for me to understand them. They were joking about my body, my grades, my way of behaving, etc. Since this was something happening quite often it caused me to feel even more insecure. I listened to the advice of a friend and went to a teacher to tell him about this, hoping he would be able to help me. When I told this teacher about this behaviour he softly laughed and said “But they are teenage boys, eventually they will grow out of this. I am sure they do not mean to hurt you”. Next, I walked away and tried to forget this ever happened. Looking back at this, I now realise that this event caused me to keep silent even more and additionally gave me the message that boys are allowed to behave in a wrong way and get away with it, only because they are male.
– Two years later, I was 18 and in my last year of highschool. I was working hard because I had a dream of going to univeristy and becoming a scientist. However in one of my biology classes, the teacher said to me and all my classmates “Because in prehistoric times men used to hunt and think logically, and women used to raise kids, we now still notice that women are biologically build to be better at languages and men are better at science and math”. I could not believe my ears, but all my classmates nodded yes so I did the same. Could this be true? Would I never becoming a scientist no matter how hard I work just because I am a woman? Maybe I should give up this dream… All these thoughts were running through my mind at this time. Luckily I was stubborn and told by my parents to not listen to this stupid way of thinking. After graduating highschool I went to university. In a few months I will graduate and be the proud owner of a master degree in chemistry. As a soon-to-be scientist I now know for sure that the brain of both men and women is capable of excelling in math and science. Both men and women can be very talented in languages. Even in prehistorical times men did not always go hunting, more and more evidence shows that women went hunting just the same or even more than men.
If someone said to me something like this now, I would no longer accept it and stay silent the way I used to. Now, I would speak up and tell them the truth.
Writing this down made me realise that many young teenage girls who are still trying to find out their place in this world, are told things like this. This holdes them back, silices them, preventes them from being brave and turn their dreams into reality. And many more girls and women experience sexism everyday by encountering events way worse than the ones I just described.
I am angry, this has to stop. I promise myself now that I will keep my eyes and ears open. I will defend women and girls who for whatever reason do not have the strength to speak up themselves. By being a scientist I will show others that women are just as capable as men. I will use my knowledge and experience trying to change the world, but even if I only can help out one person, it is already worth the effort.