Women, demand respect: Your ‘girliness’ doesn’t imply inability

By Ashlyn Beck | Staff Writer

As you probably know, March is Women’s History Month. I’ve had the privilege of writing stories about some women at Baylor who tend to be overlooked. After interviewing, writing and editing these stories, I found that many of the experiences these women have faced reflect each other’s and my own. It almost always comes in the form of implicit behavior and almost always from peers. What makes it harder is that, most of the time, men don’t even intend to be sexist.

Talking to women in my field, STEM and business, I’ve noticed that all of us experience the same issue: Most of the time, men don’t take us seriously until we prove we should be. They have a hard time allowing us to take charge in group settings, and it is usually assumed that we’re wrong when disagreements come up. Despite this, many of the women I spoke with have apologized, and so have I. We all said something along the lines of, “Men don’t intentionally act sexist,” or, “This is just how the world is these days.”

According to one article, although there is no difference between the IQs of men and women, men tend to think they are more intelligent than they actually are, and women tend to think they are less intelligent than they actually are. Consequently, women tend to think men are smarter than they actually are, and men tend to think women are less intelligent than they actually are. This is the source of a lot of the implicit sexism present in the college environment.

After a week of pondering these things, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to make the issue of sexism better is to call it out when we see it. I think the cultural climate has the tendency to make the war on sexism a war between men and women, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It will, however, require us all — men and women — to admit we might be wrong and to be open to learning how to be better.

As a woman, one of my go-to defenses against implicit sexism is repressing my feminine traits in favor of masculine ones. In classes, when I feel underestimated, I quickly bring to mind all my knowledge of football and the stock market. I make sure to hide my pink nails and try not to bring up Taylor Swift. From now on, I vote that we, as women, refuse to water down our feminine traits to try to gain more respect from men. Our “girliness” doesn’t imply inability.

Girliness and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. One of my best friends is an engineering major with a 4.0 GPA who spent too much money on an Olivia Rodrigo concert, adores crocheting and reads romance novels when she’s not studying.

So, here is my advice: Women, demand space and take it while holding your pink Stanley and wearing your Eras Tour T-shirt. We deserve it. Don’t let any form of sexism slide; call it out even when it isn’t intended to harm. How else can we cultivate change?