By: Glenne Fucci, IATG Contributor April 25, 2016
From the time we’re little kids, adults hammer the concept of team into our young heads. We have to complete team projects and possibly play on team sports. We’re told that working as a team requires cooperation, support, and having your fellow teammates’ backs. We often cheer for teams, at the college or professional levels, and teams have long brought us together to pursue our common interests. Despite all of these teams, one team often gets left behind: Team Girl.
Team Girl is a team we’re all a part of and can all cheer on. The only requirement is that you cheer on, support, and build up your fellow ladies. Too often, though, the media, society, and norms pit us girls against one another. Sure, there’s the obvious forms of girl-bashing that violate Team Girl’s rules -- the stereotypes of girls competing over the affections of boys, girls gossiping about one another, girls shaming the conduct of other girls, and, most dangerously, girls competing for titles such as thinnest or prettiest (which are both subjective standards anyway). But subconscious behavior can also violate the rules of Team Girl -- like failing to support other girls.
Recently, my friends and I were discussing our chosen career paths: tech and law. We discussed the usual complaints about the lack of representation and promotion of women in both these fields, and how despite women attending law school at a higher rate than men these days, they are still outnumbered in many fields of law. Although drastically different fields, we reached the same conclusion as to what the fields of law and tech lack; we agreed that we often feel an absence of support amongst the fellow women in our respective fields.
When choosing classes in undergrad or law school, I often looked at the quality or reviews of the professor assigned to teach the course. My friends and I discussed our findings, made our decisions and would go on to recommend many of those courses to underclassmen. However, a common complaint amongst female students is that some female professors favor male students. In those courses, the male students are called on more frequently, their ideas are praised as more important, and they generally are viewed as the more competent members of the class. Now, this is certainly not the norm, but it’s a point frequently discussed amongst my fellow female students.
As these professors are typically older, I like to believe that the reason for their differential treatment of men and women is based upon their own personal experiences. Thirty years ago, women were certainly the minority in law schools and in the legal field. Older female attorneys pioneered the pursuit of chipping away at the glass ceiling, and I don’t doubt that it was harder to do so in the 1960s than in 2016. Maybe the differing treatment results from these professors subconsciously being harder on female students, as that was how they were treated as students. Maybe it’s because in the 1960s, treating a male classmate’s opinion as superior to the female classmate’s was not the outlier but the norm. Whatever the reason, we, as the next generation, have to ensure that Team Girl is more well-supported.
Female students should ALWAYS be treated the same as male students in the classroom, and we have to do a better job of ensuring that girls are not discouraged from learning based on this differing treatments.
It’s important that Team Girl rallies early on in girls’ lives, at the start of education, so that we can learn how to stand together later in life. Team Girl stood behind so many initiatives at the local, state, and federal level that ensure that we all have equal access and equal rights solidified in law. Team Girl forcefully pushed for Title IX which requires schools and universities to provide equal funding and opportunity to male and female students. Team Girl rallied in the context of the military to repeal bills like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and to permit women to serve in combat roles. Team Girl has been the driving force behind sexual assault reforms and demanding the government to examine the campus sexual assault crisis plaguing our nation’s education system. Most recently, Team Girl, led by New York State Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, has introduced the FAMILY Act into the U.S. Senate, which would guarantee employees, regardless of their gender, paid leave to care for children or elderly family members.
All of these accomplishments would not have been possible without women rallying together and demanding change. Sure, we all have our differences but the more we support and mentor one another the closer we can get to creating a world in which women are fully respected and represented. Advocacy is one of the best ways to effectuate change and what better way to advocate than for us to come together, with all our differing experiences, perceptions, and beliefs, and use our voices for good. The current climate of girl on girl hate stops this from happening though. We have to do a better job of having the backs of our fellow ladies, especially in the context of our career fields, to ensure that these changes can become our reality. Team Girl has already done so many incredible things, and as our team grows bigger and more diverse, there is no stopping us from achieving even greater success!
How do you support Team Girl? Take some extra time today to support the ladies in your life! Send someone a kind text, compliment a gal pal on their hard work, or offer up some extra encouragement!
Glenne is a third year law student hailing from NYC, University of Michigan ‘13 grad and Beyonce enthusiast. Currently residing in Korea, my interests include duathlons/triathlons, traveling near and far, documentary films, consuming sugary cereal, watching mid-2000s teen dramas and singing my heart out at Betty Who concerts. You can watch me attempt to navigate Asia and beyond on Instagram @glennefucci.
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