Tag Archives: women’s rights

Women feel the effects of discrimination in the workforce

By Lyanna Cruzat, Mariam Feleyeh, Sophia Lim and Alana Tutasi

Staff Writers

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Shasta history teacher Shanel Daines PHOTO CREDIT: Sophia Lim

A pregnancy, which is supposed to be filled with joy and happiness, turned into worry when a woman working in marketing software told her coworker she was terrified their company was going to fire her for going on maternity leave.

“I think the major men in the business were getting tired of the woman having to leave,” said Shanel Daines, a history teacher at Summit Shasta, as she depicted that incident with her former coworker. “She could have taken legal action for it.”

When women are pregnant, they have certain rights: one of those rights is maternity leave. That woman was given restrictions during her pregnancy. Because she was feeling ostracized by her company and her boss, that women spoke to the CEO of the company about her situation. She was able to keep her position and continued to work for the company for years afterward.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects the rights of pregnant employees. It is illegal not to hire or to fire a woman because she is pregnant. In fact, all forms of pregnancy discrimination are illegal. However, many companies refuse to acknowledge the rights of these women.

Stories like these are not uncommon in the workforce. Many women also face sexual harassment in the workforce simply because of their gender. According to NPR’s Two-way, an online survey launched in January by a nonprofit called Stop Street Harassment found that 38 percent of women reported being sexually harassed while at work. Ms. Daines, along with many others, believe that needs to be changed.

Another issue that women face is not being able to enter the workforce at all. For centuries, many women were not allowed to work outside of the home. They were forced to care for their families while men went out into the world. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, in 1920 the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor was established to protect women workers and to preserve their right to be able to work without the fear of abuse or unsafe situations. The department also helped them gain the right to work legally.

However, women didn’t start entering the workforce in large numbers until the 1960s. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed by President Kennedy, which was an attempt to put an end to the wage gap between men and women. Nevertheless, women today are still on average paid about 20 percent less than men.

Shasta English teacher Laura Friday PHOTO CREDIT: Sophia Lim

That wage gap causes women to thoughtfully consider their family situation and being able to support themselves on one salary. “I do think it would be helpful to have the support of a man’s pay,” said Laura Friday, an English teacher at Summit Shasta.

While many women believe that living off of a man’s salary in addition to their own would be helpful, they do not feel that a man’s pay should be necessary in order to survive and flourish.

“I don’t think anyone needs a man’s help. I think that women don’t make as much because they don’t really get leadership roles. Most of the time men, primarily white men, dominate the leadership roles,” Ms. Friday said. 

Shasta science teacher Jaziel Salomon PHOTO CREDIT: Sophia Lim

Separations of men and women in the workforce are also a big concern. Jaziel Salomon, a science teacher at Summit Shasta, said he has noticed a substantial amount of segregation between men and women in the workforce. “Women are either pushed into not having a job at all or writing or working in English or history fields,” he said.

Today many women fight for equality and are voicing their opinions on what needs to be done. Teachers at Summit Shasta also have opinions on the change that needs to be made. Mr. Salomon said, “Women need to continue to take action when they are being harassed or assaulted, take legal action if necessary and being role models for other young women.”

Featured image (at the top of this post): This infographic provides some basic statistics on women’s positions in the workforce. GRAPHIC CREDIT: Mariam Feleyeh

Women still remain underrepresented in STEM

By Eliza Insley

Staff Writer

Although in the past decade there has been a rapid increase in women enrolling in STEM programs, there is still the looming shadow of sexism.

In 2009, only 24 percent of STEM positions were held by women, according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The study suggests this is because of a lack of female role models, as well as gender stereotyping and workplace biases that create an unwelcome environment.Screenshot 2017-03-02 at 11.32.19 AM

Gender stereotypes, such as the idea that women are the weaker gender, are accepted as young as six years old. According to an article from Associated Press: “As a result, believing they are not as gifted as boys, girls tend to shy away from demanding majors and fields, leading to big differences in aspirations and career choices between men and women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance.”

Elementary school has a significant role in shaping how girls perform in math and science in high school. The slightest difference in the way teachers behave toward their students can affect how they view math and science.

Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that some teachers assume boys just naturally excel at math and, therefore, grade their tests slightly more generously than they grade girls’ tests. Some teachers also take some boys’ rowdy and assertive nature as a sign that they are more enthusiastic for learning math, and the teachers then call on the boys more frequently. This could discourage girls from participating more actively.  

The American Association of University Women, AAUW, is a nonprofit organization that does a lot of work and research around gender stereotypes and especially around stereotypes and inequality in STEM.

This blog post on AAUW talks about how stereotypes affect girls’ performances in math: “Stereotype threat arises in situations where a negative stereotype is relevant to evaluating performance. A female student taking a math test experiences an extra cognitive and emotional burden of worry related to the stereotype that women are not good at math. A reference to this stereotype, even one as subtle as taking the test in a room of mostly men, can adversely affect her test performance. When the burden is removed, however, her performance will improve. Stereotype threat is one compelling explanation for why women remain underrepresented in STEM fields.”

STEM is becoming more and more valuable and relevant and, in many STEM fields, there has been an increase in women. According to this graphic from AAUW, there are substantially more women in Biological Sciences and Chemistry and Material Sciences.

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Since 1990, the percentage of women in STEM fields such as Computer Science and Engineering has remained low. GRAPHIC CREDIT: AAUW 

However, Computer Science and Mathematics, as well as Engineering, are suffering greatly from a lack of women.

There has been a 9 percent decrease in women in Computer Science and Mathematics. Women only make up less than one-third of people in STEM jobs. The 9 percent decrease is a consequential blow to Computer Sciences, but many universities, such as the University of California at Berkeley have changed the way they teach and market the class. The redesign and re-marketing of the class wasn’t specifically targeted to gain more female representation, but the changes surprisingly attracted a large amount of female students to the usually male-dominated class.

Another reason there is an absence of women in the STEM fields is because of a lack of strong female role models in these fields.

Kene Nwosu is a substitute science teacher for ninth and tenth grade at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, covering for a teacher on maternity leave.

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Kene Nwosu, Summit Prep substitute science teacher

When asked about how lack of female STEM role models is affecting today’s youth, Mr. Nwosu said, “When you don’t see representation of your kind, whether it be gender, race, manner of thinking, or religion, that could give you a sense that you don’t belong.”

Astrophysicist Dr. Elisa Quintana works at the Goddard Space Flight Center where she studies exoplanets and is working on TESS, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a program set to launch in 2018 to survey exoplanets.

Dr. Quintana grew up not even considering astrophysics until she was much older, unlike many of her peers who had known they wanted to pursue science from a young age, often because their parents were scientists.

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Astrophysicist Dr. Elisa Quintana Photo Credit: Dr. Quintana’s blog, “Astrobio

“When I was in college at UC, San Diego, my physics adviser was former astronaut Sally Ride. She was very passionate about STEM outreach, especially for young girls. I also loved how she just exuded strength, I know she had to be strong to be among the first females selected for the astronaut program. She definitely had a large influence on my decisions to pursue a career in astrophysics,” Dr. Quintana stated in email. 

Women are extremely outnumbered in STEM fields, but there are many people working to change that, such as the AAUW. Making young girls feel that they would be accepted and welcomed into a field they are passionate about is a really important factor in getting more female representation in those fields. But what about actually getting hired for STEM jobs?

In the AAUW’s latest data report on STEM, they stated, “One study asked science faculty to evaluate résumés that were identical except for the candidates’ names. The researchers found that scientists were more likely to choose a male candidate over an identical female candidate for a hypothetical job opening at a lab. Both female and male scientists also offered a higher salary to the male candidate and were more willing to offer him

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Research shows that women in STEM are often viewed as less desirable hires. GRAPHIC CREDIT: AAUW 

mentoring opportunities. In another study, potential employers systematically underestimated the mathematical performance of women compared with men, resulting in the hiring of lower-performing men over higher-performing women for mathematical work.”

This creates an unwelcoming environment for these women working in STEM, making them underestimate their own abilities, which could cause an overall decline in productivity and quality of work because they believe they are not as skilled or as smart as their male counterparts.

The stakes are high for women, who risk being left out of an important sector of the U.S. economy. James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C., cited the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Spring Jobs Report to explain: “The future of the economy is in STEM, that’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.”

The Women’s March is about more than just feminism

By Grace Pham

Staff Writer

Millions of people worldwide united for the Women’s March on Jan. 21. People were at the march not only to support gender equality, but also to support causes such as immigration reform and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Expeditions teachers Noelle Easterday, Aaron Calvert and Lissa Thiele attended the Jan. 21 Women’s March from three different locations: Washington D.C, San Francisco and San Jose. Below are their different stories and perspectives from that day.  

In Their Eyes

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Noelle Easterday, Expeditions teacher

Noelle Easterday, an Anthropology teacher for the Expeditions team, went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

“I was there as a member of a coalition of people concerned, not just about one issue, but about the general state of fear that many people in the U.S. are in with this new administration,” Easterday said. “It includes women’s rights, anti-xenophobia, supporting science, protecting public lands and supporting love in all its forms.”

“The goal of the march was to  send a clear message to both Congress and the new presidential administration that we are not going to stand by quietly and be complicit in the oppression of people in the U.S.”

Educator Ms. Thiele

Lissa Thiele, Expeditions teacher PHOTO CREDIT: C. M. Bateman

Lissa Thiele, the Holocaust teacher for the Expeditions team, attended the Women’s March in Downtown San Jose and stated, “I was there because my grandmothers never lived long to see something like this. I was there representing family members that were no longer alive, but I never thought that women would take to the streets and protest the way they did.”

“I did it for all the women that can’t do it,” Thiele said. “It’s so important to come together on these issues that I think it’s not a bipartisan type of thing; it’s not a Republican-Democrat thing; it’s a human thing.”

Ms. Thiele said the goal of the march “was to put a center focus on women and to be able to come together in a peaceful way and I think to unify together.”

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Aaron Calvert, Expeditions teacher

Aaron Calvert, an Entrepreneurship teacher for the Expeditions team, attended the Women’s March in San Francisco.

“I attended because I oppose Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric against minority groups. I support the right of all people to protest against the racist and sexist language that Trump used and believes in. I don’t agree with his hateful vision of what America is,” Mr. Calvert said.

“I can only hope that the sheer number of protesters registered on the nation’s, and Trump’s, consciousness. A lot of people are worried about what Trump’s presidency will mean for women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, immigrants’ rights, Muslims’ rights, and the environment. By protesting and raising awareness for these concerns, the members of the protest hope to change the nation’s conversation on these issues. Members of the protest want to build a collective, intersectional group to promote and protect the rights of all people. At this point in time, I do not think we can measure the impact yet; it is just too soon.”

Mr. Calvert said the San Francisco Women’s March served a purpose: “The motivating event for the march was the election of Donald Trump. Many people were upset and worried that Trump would enact restrictive and punitive laws against a variety of groups of people. There was no one single issue that all protesters supported; it was a coalition of groups who support each other and oppose Donald Trump’s policies.”

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Expeditions teacher Noelle Easterday traveled to D.C. for the Women’s March on Jan. 21.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Women’s March participants in San Francisco rallied to support many causes. PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Calvert

Summit Preparatory Charter High School celebrates International Women’s Day

By Kristian Bekele and Micah Tam

Staff Writers 

On March 8, 2017, Summit Preparatory Charter High School honored the women who have changed our lives as a way to join the conversation sparked by the observance of International Women’s Day. This day is meant to celebrate all the accomplishments that women have brought toward the advancement of the world.

Teachers from Summit’s Expeditions team coordinated different workshops to highlight women’s rights and to show appreciation for women by having students learn about feminism and discuss the struggles that women still face in our society.

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A poster in Room 16 shows appreciation to the “superwomen” in students’ everyday lives.
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During one workshop, students were asked to write down male and female stereotypes on sticky notes in order to identify existing social constructs.
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Summit Prep juniors Talia Herzberg, Anna Becker, Rasmia Shuman and Sophia Demarais show their pride by wearing red.
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In Room 1, students watched a video showcasing sexism in Hollywood.
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Outside of Room 11, posters placed on the wall inform the community about International Women’s Day, the #DayWithoutAWoman movement and the Women’s March.

Aaron Calvert, who teaches Entrepreneurship for the Expeditions team, shares his views on gender equality and shows appreciation to the strong women in his life.

Lissa Thiele, who teaches a course on the Holocaust and genocide and a Sociology of Law course for the Expeditions Team, shares her knowledge about female partisans during the Holocaust.

Ms. Thiele continues her discussion of female resistance figures during the Holocaust.

Brooke Hein, who teaches a course called Food for Thought for the Expeditions Team, shares a personal anecdote about how she realized her privilege when she stayed in Mozambique during her time in the Peace Corps.

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Summit Prep seniors Stephany Flores, Alexandra Garcia, and Giselle Canseco dress in red to show their pride on International Women’s Day. 

Related:

Summit Prep students seek to define feminism