By Alondra – Spring STEM Exploration
Once upon a time, society was extremely strict when it came to deciding what women and men could do. As unfair as it was, roles were determined based on each person’s reproductive organs rather than on their abilities. When I asked the girls what the difference between sex and gender was they were a bit confused. Natalie said, “Sex is when a woman and a boy get together and they do stuff, gender is when you’re a boy or a girl.” She was close but that wasn’t the definition we were looking for. Maya then looked up the definition and said, ” I think the definition we’re looking for is; either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.” The group understood a bit better… Until I asked what gender meant. Everyone thought that sex and gender were the same, and although they are similar, their definitions come from two different ends: Sex is based on our reproductive organs; gender is based on what society associates with being a male or a female.
To have the girls understand what this really meant, we carried out an activity. On a piece of flip chart paper I drew two columns. On one side I wrote woman/girl, and on the other I wrote man/boy. I then asked the girls what came to their minds when I asked what being a woman or a girl meant. I did the same for the second column. The girls came up with different phrases: Weak, emotional, moms, and clean. For the second column they had: Suit, strong (physically and mentally), loud, and the boss of the house.
Hope and I then had the girls sit in a circle to discuss whether the title of each column could be changed. Although part of the group was a little confused at first, they understood that it was possible. Catherine said, “It can be true. Just because we’re boys and girls doesn’t mean that we are completely different. Most of us have two arms, two legs, two eyes, and even if some don’t have all of that they can still try.” That was probably one of the best feelings I had that week: Knowing that my students had an open mind.
We had Gillian, from growing power, visit us that day. She taught the girls the importance of growing our own products. Gillian had the girls sift coconut shell to use later on.
Gillian also told the girls how worms helped soil used to grow healthy vegetables. She said that some worms helped increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. In addition, they break down organic matter that helps the plants grow.
The girls then got to plant some sunflower seeds themselves!