Girls Only–Unless the boys think it’s unfair

EDF energy is a UK-based electricity company that hosts a yearly campaign aimed at “inspiring girls’ curiosity about science, technology, engineering and maths”. Their Pretty Curious Challenge is an annual competition that hopes to challenge young girls to create and invent new devices using their knowledge and passion for STEM.

They cited that only 1 out of every 7 person who works in the STEM field is a female, and they hope to change that by “sparking the imagination of young girls and inspiring them to stay curious”.

That sounds great. The only problem? This year’s Pretty Curious Challenge winner was a boy.

Josh, 13, won the Pretty Curious Challenge with his Pad Generator, a gaming device that creates kinetic energy while you play.

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EDF announced last year that the competition would now be open to both boys and girls in the interest of fairness, though assured the public that the Pretty Curious campaign itself was still aimed at inspiring girls. I wonder how inspired those girls feel when they realize that even when there’s a competition aimed specifically for their gender, they still lose to a boy.

But why is this not okay? Isn’t equality what us feminists are fighting for? Equal opportunity for all? This would be true if women had the same equal opportunities as men, but we don’t.

Let’s look at some other technology-oriented competitions.

  • The Dupont Challenge is a science essay competition open to grades 6-12. Of the six winners for both the junior and senior divisions, two were girls.
  • The National STEM Video Game Challenge encourages the same kind of passion for STEM as the Pretty Curious Challenge. Of the fifteen finalists from 2013-2015, three were girls.
  • The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest challenges students to solve simple problems with imaginative inventions. There were twenty-two children combined in the top four winning teams of 2015, and six of them were girls.

There are more, but who has the time? The great thing that the Pretty Curious Challenge could have done, which is allowing girls interested in STEM to finally have a chance to compete on an equal playing field, was destroyed when they opened the competition to both genders for “fairness”. Boys have fairness in every other science-geared competition out there, let the girls have their chance.

Girls Only–Unless the boys think it’s unfair

Women in Sports and How No One Takes Them Seriously

The Super Bowl is probably one of the most popular days for sports television in America; Super Bowl 50 ended up being the third most watched broadcast in television history. Sports in general are an American pastime: people watch them every weekend, talk about them in every bar and loose money to them more than they’d like to admit.

USA Today released a list of the most famous athletes in America, and of the 25 athletes listed only 3 were women. Danica Patrick, number 24, and the Williams sisters, 8 and 9, managed to make the list. Photos were also to highlight the more famous celebrity athletes.

Michael Phelps (Number 7)

Kobe Bryant (Number 3)

Patrick’s photo was a screen shot from one of her GoDaddy.com campaigns and though we could talk about how she’s pictured as a glamorous, sequined beauty queen while her male counterparts are all in posed playing the sport they’re famous for, what’s the point? We all know why USA Today chose to portray Patrick like this. She’s valued more for her busty beauty than her abilities behind a race car. This is the photo I’d rather see.

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What about the Williams sisters?

No sequins, no boobs, just them huddled together with their hands over their mouths looking worried. Is this a photo of two notable female athletes? Or two school girls gossiping behind the lockers? Why can’t we have fantastic action shots like these?

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Those are athletes displaying what they’re famous for: strength and skill.

Fact is that there should be more female athletes on this list, and even the women who did make it are not portrayed to the same degree as the men. To counteract this complete lack of representation, I’ve created my own list of the Top Five Most Popular Female Athletes Who Didn’t Make USA Today’s Stupid List.

1) Ronda Rousey


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Rousey was the first UFC Bantamweight Champion and the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo (Summer 2008). She’s definitely worth mentioning.

2) Hope Solo


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Women’s soccer has been getting crap since its establishment in the 20s, but Solo is a World Cup Champion and a three-time Olympic gold medal winner, so where’s her photo?

3) Gabby Douglas


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Besides winning two gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Douglas is the first woman of color to be a champion of the individual all-around competitions. Ever. That’s against every country in the world. Why is this amazing woman not included?

4) Lindsey Vonn


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Vonn is one of only two women four World Cup overall championships. She also won gold in the 2010 winter Olympics for downhill skiing, the first American woman to have done so. Here she is trudging a path in the snow for female athletes and no one is taking notice.

5) Lolo Jones


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Jones is a track and field national title winner and World Indoor Champion. She’s also on the US national bobsled team and won gold in the 2013 national championships. She’s one of few women to have participated in both the summer and winter Olympics.

Women in Sports and How No One Takes Them Seriously

Representation in this Universe and Beyond

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Many comic books fans everywhere were outraged last year when Marvel revealed that Sam Wilson would take on Steve Roger’s legacy as Captain America. But why were these fans so upset? Because Wilson was black.

It’s worthy to note that Wilson was chosen to represent the changing image of America. A black man who fights for the rights of minorities would induce panic among the conservative crowd when Steve Rogers was the white, blonde, blue-eyed, all-American hero that the country was so comfortable with.

But why is this topic relevant? Who cares what’s going on in the fictional world of Marvel? For the same reason that Dr. Lynn C. Owens discusses in the article “Network News: The Role of Race in Source Selection and Story Topic”.” Owens found that minorities accounted for only 21 percent of sources used out of 87 newscasts and 875 stories (p.360). A startling find when you think that the purpose of the news is to inform the everyday citizens of this country what’s happening outside their front doors, and even more so when, according to the United States Census Bureau, 40 percent of the country is made up of minorities.

The misrepresentation of minorities is present outside the Marvel universes and newsrooms. USC’s Annenburg School of Communication and Journalism examined 500 top-grossing films from 2007-2012 and found only 10.8 percent of the speaking characters were black, 4.2 percent were Hispanic and 3.6 percent were mixed race. Compare this to the 76.3 percent of white speaking characters and we can see that there is a problem (Smith, Chouetti, Piper, 2013, p.1).

Countless studies have been performed to find the exact same findings: representation of minorities in this country is sorely lacking, but the gatekeepers of the media continue to turn a blind eye. We don’t have a Captain America, either white or black, to fight for us. The only way for representation to occur is for everyday people to demand it.

Citations

USA QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2016, from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

Lynn C. Owens (2008) Network News: The Role of Race in Source Selection and Story Topic, Howard Journal of Communications, 19:4, 355-370, DOI: 10.1080/10646170802418269

Obama Culture: New black Captain America battles SHOCKING villain. (2015). Retrieved February 04, 2016, from http://www.allenbwest.com/2015/10/new-black-captain-america-battles-white-conservatives/

Smith, S. L., Choueiti, M., & Pieper, K. (2013). Race/Ethnicity in 500 Popular Films: Is the Key to Diversifying Cinematic Content held in the Hand of the Black Director? MDSC Initiative, 1-11. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://annenberg.usc.edu/sitecore/shell/Applications/~/media/PDFs/RaceEthnicity.ashx

 

Representation in this Universe and Beyond