Mean girls, mean girls I hope you can see that we are all in the same game to achieve success and rise educationally above in the struggle for equality. I have the fortunate opportunity to work with multicultural young people in various facets. These opportunities include working for Heart House Dallas as a Site Leader in after school program serving refugee and immigrant children. In addition, being Advisory Board Chairperson for the Bryan Adams High School Academies of Engineering and Biomedical Sciences. No matter where I interact with young people, I see young girls challenging themselves to use their voices when being silent seems more acceptable.
One of my students at Heart House came to me in tears and said, “Ms. Alicia they said I can’t play the chess game because I am a girl.” This student in particular is from Malaysia and understanding her situation from a cultural perspective I knew my response to her is critical. I looked at her and said, “Why can’t you play? Go back and tell them you are playing and that’s it.” She looked at me and said, “Okay I can play” and walked off and did just that.
Weeks later another young girl was crying and I witnessed the most beautiful thing the same young girl I had encouraged weeks before comforting her. The young girl from Malaysia then looked back at me winked and smiled as if to say “Ms. Alicia I got this and your lesson to me is not in vain.”
It warms my heart to see young girls and women transform into being strong advocates for themselves and other women. However, truthfully we still have a long way to go in the educational and leadership game for women.
Young girls and women are still fighting for equal access to education around the world. The other elephant in the room is young girls feeling afraid of being smart and instead pretending to be less smart to fit in.
First lady Michelle Obama recently spoke at Glamour’s “The Power of an Educated Girl” event in Harlem, New York City. She told girls to “compete with the boy,” nay “beat the boys.” She went on further to say, “There is no boy, at this age, cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting an education,” Miss Obama added. “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the President of the United States.” First Lady Michelle Obama is a class act not only is she highly educated she is unafraid to unapologetically be her brilliant self at all times.
One of my biggest roles as an educator is being an encourager and example of what success on your own terms looks like. I walk into a room with the self-confidence to feel and exude the attitude that I belong here in the moment. You can’t control how someone responds to you being comfortable in your own skin. However, when opportunities as a young girl or woman arrive always show up and outwardly in results.
Mean girls I hope that you now see we are all in the same game. It’s not about tearing another woman down when together we can knock down the door that says women don’t belong here. Wherever you are in your life make sure you are an example to a young girl of what excellence looks like for it’s the most powerful tool to empower the next generation of female leaders.