By Soumya Kulkarni, Regular ContributorNovember 14, 2015
image via racerelations.about.com
“Create a stereotype that young girls can be the best in science and math and engineering,” -Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos Founder and CEO at Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year.
Holmes makes an interesting point- how would the world be different if we handed little girls footballs along with Barbie dolls?Within the next few decades, half the players in the NFL would be girls! Sexism exists today, and it’s most visible in perceived weaknesses that say women cannot do certain things or that men are genetically more capable. As a chess player, I have witnessed these opinions first-hand. Men dominate higher-level chess almost entirely, leading many to believe that men are just inherently better at chess. This is a tough pill to swallow, not only due to the ignorance of the opinion, but also because it shows that many do not acknowledge the privilege they have by birth.
Privilege is an interesting concept and one that many shy away from because it sounds like vulnerability and making excuses.
In reality, accepting privilege simply means understanding that everyone has a different accessibility to opportunities. Gender, race, religion, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, familial life, and many other factors all affect this accessibility.
For years, we have perpetuated the stereotype that women have bad analytical skills and that they are less physically capable. For generations, women were supposed to be quiet and docile and only excel in subjects such as history or languages- nice, calm subjects that women’s delicate constitutions can handle. This kind of thinking breeds privilege and stereotyping. If you keep half of the players out of the rink for centuries and then throw them back in during the championship round, obviously it will make you look more skilled. Chess player, Judith Polgar; Army Rangers, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver; and mathematician, Shakuntala Devi prove that these stereotypes only serve to put us into confining boxes and limit our abilities. The only way we can change this tide and close the increasing gap caused by privilege is by breaking down stereotypes. By putting aside expectations and norms, we can assure every child achieves their full potential.
Do you ever feel like you're judged because of your gender? How do you break those stereotypes? Do you feel like privilege impacts stereotypes? Tell us below!
Soumya is a high-schooler from the Midwest. In addition to writing, she loves chess, reading good books, chocolate, tea, new cities, and Harry Potter. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams as she embarks on her own journeys. Find her at her personal blog, ifturquoisecouldtalk.blogspot.com or tweet her @soumkulkarni.
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