Katie Chong- In the 2004 hit movie, “Mean Girls,” Cady Heron is told to not join Mathletes because Regina George thinks it is “social suicide.” When Cady eventually joins Mathletes, she is the only girl on the team. Unfortunately, her experience is where the line between movies and real life is blurred.
As a member of Math Team, Scholastic Bowl and the Debate team, I proudly call myself a “nerd.” However, in my two years at WHS, I can’t help but notice the disparity between male and female student participants. Most students I interviewed, male or female, agreed that boys seem to dominate the academic extracurricular scene. The reality is, some girls are embarrassed to be in or join academic clubs. I am guilty of this, too. Girls, especially in high school, are so self-conscious about others’ opinions. “I have been embarrassed (to be in Math Team), but then I realized that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to be myself,” Lia Decoursey, sophomore said.
The problem starts earlier than we think. “Look at our toys. Girls are given Barbies that go shopping and boys are given Legos that set foundations for engineering” Becky Torres, sophomore, said. In fact, according to American Association of University Women, only 15% of freshman girls are planning a career in STEM while their male counterparts are double that. “I don’t agree with it, but engineering has been labeled as ‘more masculine.’” Brian Dardon, junior said. Another thing I have been guilty of is being afraid that if I’m smarter than the boy I like, he will no longer be interested in me. In “Mean Girls,” Cady dumbed herself down, believing that if she did Aaron Samuel would like her back.
But girls do not have to be scared anymore. We do not have to be embarrassed anymore. “Don’t be afraid. If it’s right for you, do it. High school is once in a lifetime.” Irene Kesselman, junior, said. Fortunately, intelligence is being appreciated more and more everyday. “I don’t think there’s a negative connotation with being smart anymore. People are starting to realize the benefits of being smart and actually are jealous of people smarter than them,” Solomon Kong, freshman, said. “There’s nothing wrong with being smart.”
Intelligence is not a gender specific thing. Everyone should be allowed to do what they love without the fear of judgement.
“I could care less if a guy or a girl is next to me (during academic extracurriculars), as long as they’re doing what they enjoy. The stigma shouldn’t hold anyone back from doing what they enjoy There’s not differences in performance between guys and girls, so there shouldn’t be difference in participation,” Dardon said.