We Need Feminism To Help Support Women In STEM

We Need Feminism To Help Support Women In STEM

Making feminism an integral part of the college experience creates strong, smart, independent women.
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On my first day of my first semester as an engineering student, I walked into my very first engineering lab. I was a sophomore—a typical student who realized a year into her college career that she hated her degree and wanted to change. Before I was even ten feet into the classroom, a boy grabbed my arm and stopped me.

“This is a first year engineering lab.”

I stared at him dumfounded for a second, before finally saying slowing, “Yeah...I know..."

He smiles and replies “Well, I’d hate for you to accidentally wander into an engineering lab.”

You have got to be kidding me. I have been an engineering student for approximately 15 minutes, and I’ve already been the victim of sexism. As the semester and year went on, it continued, even increased. The men in my engineering group expected me to do all the work, and a professor I have this semester refers to the four women in our class as the “lady engineers”. My advisor told me that I’d be “better off” pursuing a degree in women and gender studies if I was this bothered by the way I was treated by the engineering department.

But this article isn’t about me. This is about all the women across college campuses who are trying to learn in environments where we are the minority. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project study performed in 2011, women only received 19.2 percent of STEM degrees, and women of color only earning 3.1 percent of those degrees in the following year. This isn’t even limited to STEM, and extends into other male-dominated majors that lead to higher-paying jobs.

And if you think—this study was done in 2011, I’m sure things have improved since then!—You’d be wrong.

To make matters worse, it isn’t just engineering. I also am an undergraduate researcher at the James Cancer Center. All the labs are more or less connected, and I am one of the few women within the lab. Luckily, the lab I work in is all women—my graduate fellow is a woman, and all the other undergraduates I work with are women. But most of the primary investigators within my building are men. Most of the labs are run by men, and they therefore hire men. It certainly doesn’t help that most of the people who graduate with STEM degrees are men to begin with.

How do you bridge that gap? How do you encourage women to major in STEM when you always be the minority, whether in classes, in your research lab, etc.? It constantly feels like an uphill battle just to be on the same playing field as the men in the same place.

THIS is why feminism on college campuses is so important. As my favorite Beyoncé song reminds us, “A feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes." Why is that definition important when talking about college campuses? Equality means that men and women are treated the same way. That means referring to women as just engineers instead of “lady engineers," and encouraging the women who do decide to pursue degrees in STEM majors to stick with it and support them. Representation matters—choosing to hire the few women who do get a degree and giving women someone to talk to about the struggles they have faced. Representation matters. I could repeat it a thousand times, and yet men with fewer qualifications will get hired over the woman every time—just look at the presidential election.

But more than anything else, making feminism an integral part of the college experience creates strong, smart, independent women who won’t take shit from ANYONE. Feminism will bring college women together to love, support and help each other become the best women they can be. They will come together to overcome when the odds are so clearly stacked against them. Destroying the hostile environment for women which college campuses facilitate will do nothing but improve lives for everyone - especially colleges, who are STILL not handling rape and Title IX cases appropriately (like, come on, it’s 2017).

I am a proud feminist. That means that I will fight for ALL women, whether here in the United States or a thousand miles away, and I will continue to fight, yell, and march until there is a time where all my sister women are respected for the badass and smart women they truly are. And when I can be taken seriously when I tell someone that I am a biological engineering major, pre-vet, who wants to become a veterinarian for the military, rather than be told “that’s for men”.

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'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Is NOT About Date Rape, It's A Fight Against Social Norms Of The 1940s

The popular Christmas song shouldn't be considered inappropriate.

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The classic Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has recently been under attack. There has been controversy over the song being deemed as inappropriate since it has been suggested that it promotes date rape. Others believe that the song is another common example of our culture's promotion of rape. You may be wondering, where did they get that idea from?

The controversy has led to one radio station, WCPO, taking the song off the radio and banning it from their station. Some people believe that this song goes against the #MeToo movement since it promotes rape. However, people are not considering the fact that this traditional Christmas song was made in the 1940s.

People are viewing the song from a modern-day cultural perspective rather than from the perspective of the 1940s. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written in 1944. Many people have viewed the song from the perspective of our cultural and social norms. People believe that the song promotes date rape because of lyrics that suggest that the male singing is trying to stop the female singer from leaving, and the female singer is constantly singing about trying to escape with verses like "I really can't stay" or "I've got to go home."

When you first view the song from the perspective of today's culture, you may jump to the conclusion that the song is part of the date rape culture. And it's very easy to jump to this conclusion, especially when you are viewing only one line from the song. We're used to women being given more freedom. In our society, women can have jobs, marry and be independent. However, what everyone seems to forget is that women did not always have this freedom.

In 1944, one of the social norms was that women had curfews and were not allowed to be in the same house as a man at a later time. It was considered a scandal if a single woman so much as stayed at another man's house, let alone be in the same room together. It's mind-blowing, right? You can imagine that this song was probably considered very provocative for the time period.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is not a song that encourages date rape, but is actually challenging the social norms of society during the time period. When you listen to the song, you notice that at one part of the song, the female states, "At least I can say that I tried," which suggests that she really doesn't want to leave. In fact, most of the song, she is going back and forth the whole time about leaving stating, "I ought to say no…well maybe just a half a drink more," and other phrases.

She doesn't want to leave but doesn't really have a choice due to fear of causing a scandal, which would have consequences with how others will treat her. It was not like today's society where nobody cares how late someone stays at another man's house. Nowadays, we could care less if we heard that our single neighbor stayed over a single man's house after 7. We especially don't try to look through our curtain to check on our neighbor. Well, maybe some of us do. But back then, people did care about where women were and what they were doing.

The female singer also says in the lyrics, "The neighbors might think," and, "There's bound to be talk tomorrow," meaning she's scared of how others might perceive her for staying with him. She even says, "My sister will be suspicious," and, "My brother will be there at the door," again stating that she's worried that her family will find out and she will face repercussions for her actions. Yes, she is a grown woman, but that doesn't mean that she won't be treated negatively by others for going against the social norms of the time period.

Then why did the male singer keep pressuring her in the song? This is again because the song is more about challenging the social norms of the time period. Both the female and male singers in the song are trying to find excuses to stay and not leave.

On top of that, when you watch the video of the scene in which the song was originally viewed, you notice that the genders suddenly switch for another two characters, and now it's a female singer singing the male singer's part and vice versa. You also notice that the whole time, both characters are attracted to one another and trying to find a way to stay over longer.

Yes, I know you're thinking it doesn't matter about the genders. But, the song is again consensual for both couples. The woman in the beginning wants to stay but knows what will await if she doesn't leave. The male singer meanwhile is trying to convince her to forget about the rules for the time period and break them.

In addition, the complaint regarding the lyric "What's in this drink?" is misguided. What a lot of people don't understand is that back in 1944, this was a common saying. If you look at the lyrics of the song, you notice that the woman who is singing is trying to blame the alcoholic drink for causing her to want to stay longer instead of leaving early. It has nothing to do with her supposed fear that he may have tried to give her too much to drink in order to date rape her. Rather, she is trying to find something to blame for her wanting to commit a scandal.

As you can see, when you view the song from the cultural perspective of the 1940s, you realize that the song could be said to fight against the social norms of that decade. It is a song that challenges the social constrictions against women during the time period. You could even say that it's an example of women's rights, if you wanted to really start an argument.

Yes, I will admit that there were movies and songs made back in the time period that were part of the culture of date rape. However, this song is not the case. It has a historical context that cannot be viewed from today's perspective.

The #MeToo movement is an important movement that has led to so many changes in our society today. However, this is not the right song to use as an example of the date rape culture.

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I Spoke With A Group Of DACA Recipients And Their Stories Moved Me To Tears

An experience that forever changed my perspective on "illegal" immigrants.

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I thought I was just filming about a club meeting for a project, but when I entered the art-filled room located in a corner of the student common area, I knew this experience would be much more than a grade for a class.

I was welcomed in by a handful of people wearing various Arizona State hoodies and T-shirts that were all around my age. They were college students, like myself, but something felt different when talking to them. They were comforting, shy at first, and more driven than the peers that I usually meet.

As I began to look around the room, I noticed a good amount of art, murals, religious pieces, and a poster that read, "WE STAND WITH DREAMERS." The club was meant for students at ASU that are either undocumented or DACA recipients.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

As a U.S. citizen college student, you typically tend to think about your GPA, money, and dating. As a DACA recipient college student, there are many more issues crowding your brain. When I sat down at a club meeting for students my age dealing with entirely different problems as me, my eyes were opened to bigger issues.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program allows for individuals that crossed the border as children to be protected from deportation and to go to school or work. Commonly known as DREAMers, these individuals are some of the most hard-working, goal-oriented and focused people I have met, and that's solely because they have to be.

In order to apply to be a DACA recipient, it is required that the applicant is attending school with a high school diploma, or a military veteran, as well as have a clean criminal record. While being a DACA recipient does not mean that you can become a permanent citizen of the United States, it allows for opportunities that may not be offered in their home country.

It's no secret that the United States has dealt with immigration in a number of ways. From forming new policies to building a wall on our nation's border, we see efforts to keep immigrants from entering the U.S. every day. But what about the people who are affected?

As the club members and I began a painting activity regarding where we came from and how we got to where we are today, I began to feel the urge to cry.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

One girl described the small Mexican town that she grew up in and the family that still resides there. She went on to talk about how important education is to her family and so much so that it was the cause of her family's move to the United States when she was still a child. Her voice wavered when she talked about the changing immigration policies that prevent her from seeing her family in Mexico.

Another member of the club, a boy with goals of becoming a journalist, talked of his depression and obstacles regarding growing up as an undocumented student. Once he was told by his father that he was illegal, he began to set himself apart from his peers and became someone he did not think he would ever be.

All of my worries seemed small in comparison to theirs, and I felt a pang of regret for realizing I take my own citizenship for granted every single day.

Terminating the policy would lead to the displacement of about 800,000 people. We tend to forget about the human aspect of all of this change, but it's the most important part.

For more information about this club, visit https://www.facebook.com/USEEASU/

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