Girl power



Photograph: Unsplash

Text: Monika Pedersen


'Girl Power' was a term coined in the late 1990s by all-girl band, 'the Spice Girls', who rocked the music scene with their 'sassy' attitude, self-sufficiency, and female empowerment lyrics. They are contributors to the plight of women seeking greater gender equality. However, generations of iconic females before and after them, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sally Ride, Hillary Clinton, and Malala Yousafzai, to name a few, have also championed the fight for female rights.


International Women's Day

March 8 marks International Women's Day, which celebrates the strides women have made in different spheres of life across the globe to gain equality. It is incredible to think that this date has been celebrated since 1911 but sobering to know that the levelling up still has a considerable journey.


Education for everyone

One of the fundamental means of gaining fairness is through education. The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund's, UNICEF, 1989 document 'The Convention on the Rights of the Child', declared in point 28. 'Every child has the right to an education. Primary education should be free. Secondary and higher education should be available to every child. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible.'


“It is essential to foster an interest in the sciences, math, technology, and humanity-based subjects in all students. Subjects are not gender-specific.”

Inequality

Sadly, this is only transpired in part for UNICEF's statistics also state that ‘129 million girls are out of school, including 32 million primary school age, 30 million lower-secondary school age, and 67 million upper-secondary school age. In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school than girls living in non-affected countries.' This makes for devasting reading. In contrast, countries where all young people can access education demonstrate that girls are frequently those achieving higher test results and exhibiting more consistency in their work habits than boys. This was verified in Kenneth Reinecke Hansen and Jonas Nygaard Blom's research paper.


The Danish gender gap

Their findings are echoed by the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, which reported Danish results, primarily relating to students' skills. The report shares that girls were not significantly behind boys in Math. Moreover, they excelled in science and seriously outdid boys in reading literacy. This highlights that girls compete well with their male counterparts given the opportunity. The statistics also confirm that girls do equally well in high school and university. Since the mid-1990s, the enrolment of females in Danish universities has been higher than males. The issue at stake is that females seem to be less likely to enrol in IT or more science base options.


Unfortunately, the trend takes a downward turn in the marketplace. In academia, gender diversity within university research work indicates that there are far fewer females. This thread is also prevalent in the workplace, where another commissioned report highlights that women are underrepresented in leadership roles, and Denmark lags behind its Nordic neighbours in promoting females to top positions.


Taking steps

The time to change this mindset and pathway is right back in the early stages of schooling. It is essential to foster an interest in the sciences, math, technology, and humanity-based subjects in all students. Subjects are not gender-specific. Teachers need to encourage participation by both sexes and seek out engaging materials, find creative ways to turn difficult subjects into interesting studies and instil in all students a sense of self-belief that they can access subjects and achieve success. So much is tied up in the language used, the instructional approach towards boys and girls, and the goals the students set for themselves endorsed by their educators, mentors, and parents.


It is also imperative to consider the diversity of the employed staff to provide students with positive role models and not stereotypical personnel. Connecting with and exploring a subject with an inspiring teacher makes a huge difference in a student's life. Obviously, this is an ideal, but the opportunity to deliver a diverse, talented teaching staff provides students with truly enriching and long-lasting experiences.


Inequality

It is possible to narrow the gender inequality gap, but it will take the continued, valiant efforts of bold females, activists, and a pivoting in the educational system and companies to secure equal opportunities for all.

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