Should We Continue to Stay Quiet?
As humans, we are always quick on our feet to think that our world is so progressive. We are constantly coming up with new inventions and new ways to make the world a better place. But does that necessarily mean that we are making a difference in the world socially?
My dad pushed me in high school to pursue a degree in computer engineering, since the world today is so tech-oriented. But to his disappointment, I never found an interest in computer programming; although my luck with computers is peculiarly better than most people’s.
During my junior year of high school, I decided to listen to my dad, so I took my first computer programming class at my high school. This was an overwhelming class for me, since I had absolutely no interest in chasing after a career that I knew wasn’t meant for me, but I wanted to give it a try because you never know what may come of it.
I’m a pretty confident girl and have this instinctual gut feeling about everything. But I’d never been so intimidated by a class ever before. It wasn’t just the class that was intimidating; it was the person who taught the class. He was a stout man in his 60s teaching coding to high schoolers at one of the top schools in the United States. But my teacher was also sexist and it was a well-known fact all over school.
In class, he always picked on guys when it came to answering questions and always praised them for their smarts. But when it came to girls, he belittled them when they asked questions about Java. But no one said anything, and that made me utterly upset.
My friend in AP Computer Science had even told me about the time she asked him if she could go to the bathroom because she was on her period, and he didn’t allow her to go. She was stuck in class for 90 minutes while he let boys go to the bathroom whenever they wished.
My dad had warned me about such people in the industry, but I never realized that I would have an encounter with such a person during my first go at computer programming.
I remember sitting in my room on a Friday, furiously drafting a letter to Sheryl Sandberg, one of the top female executives at Facebook. She has always been an advocate for feminism and the idea that women and men should be treated equally in the workplace.
My letter to her was supposed to be about my anger and frustration that in the 21st century, we had reached nowhere in terms of social change. Sure, we had received our rights as women a long time ago, but we still haven’t received the respect from men that we so desperately yearned for. It angered me that my teacher was one of these men.
But I knew that this man wasn’t going to define me because of his inability to see the potential women have in them to change the world around them. That class impacted me and not for the reason my dad wanted it to. It has become my mission since taking that class to make sure that this stereotype that women are meant to stay at home rather than pursue their passions changes by the time I have children of my own.