Over the past year, we have seen media coverage surrounding issues that so many women face including the gender gap in non-traditional roles, sexual harassment and sexual assault and inequality in salaries. We have seen women marches and hashtags on the brink to expose how these issues have impacted women all over the globe. 

As a Career and Technical Education advocate, I have been amazed by the number of young girls who have decided to pursue careers that are typically male-dominated and watching them break glass ceilings is inspiring to witness. I remember when I made a video about changing the stigma of CTE and I heard the story of a Coding student, Carrie who told me that one of her counselors had told her that because she was a girl she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the boys in her program.

I was amazed at the strength that she had as a high school senior and how she didn’t let the words of an adult–who is supposed to look out for her best interest–keep her from enrolling in a program that would shape her future career, was very inspiring. This young lady received a full-ride scholarship to a university where she will continue her education in Computer Sciences. Unfortunately, some individuals found her story offensive which caused the video to be taken down. 

I was upset that her voice was silenced and I was even more upset that other young girls are growing up being told what they cannot do and their feminine traits are deemed as weaknesses. I hope that her story of perseverance inspires other girls to follow their dreams and not to let anyone determine their destiny. 

All girls need to be told that they can fulfill any dream that they desire and these 4 TED Talks are perfect examples of why it is important to raise strong women. 

We Should All Be Feminists

In this 30-minute Ted Talk Nigerian Writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses why feminism is important and why society needs to shift their views of putting men and women in certain gender roles and how it can negatively affect both sexes. She opens up about the first time she was called a feminist and how it was portrayed as a negative description for women and how she looked up the meaning in the dictionary and felt empowered.

 She talks about how traditional roles can have an impact on marriages, careers, and overall well-being. Adichie talks about the different standards in Nigerian culture and how women are addressed, treated in relationships and how they are raised to stroke the ego of men. She talks about her journey to being proud of her femininity without apology. This Ted Talk segment is an eye opener for individuals of all cultures on how gender roles can affect us all. 

Ziauddin Yousafzai: My Daughter, Malala

In 2012, Pakistani Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for standing up for equality in education for women. Since her attack, she and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai continue to fight for equal educational rights for both sexes. Malala’s father is an educator in their home country and strongly believes that there should be more rights for women in society and how he has used his career to help promote change and equality.

This Ted Talk is one that is rare because Ziauddin steps out of cultural norms and uses his platform to uplift women and promote change. He breaks the cycle of raising a daughter to be silent and obedient and to be a woman of great honor, which is a trait traditionally designed for men of their culture to adopt. This segment is a powerful one because it shows how change is being made on a universal level when it comes to the equality of men and women. Ziauddin may be one man, but by using his platform to help fight the stigma he is opening the eyes of other men in his culture and inspiring girls around the world to fight for their educational rights.

So We Leaned in…Now What? 

Author Sheryl Sandberg of the book Lean In, Women, Work and the Will to Lead. She discusses how gender stereotypes have affected her at work and how she came up with the plot of her book. She talks about how women have been impacted by this book and how she wants to see women take on leadership roles and fight the challenges that have occurred. 

She talks about how girls are also labeled “bossy” and how women are labeled as being “too aggressive” at work. Sandberg gives great advice on how women can help combat the stereotypes and change the outlook of women leaders. The low numbers of female leaders are able to be changed for women as they work their way up the ladder in their corporate career.

Be prepared to be inspired and go online to purchase your copy of Lean In. Check out another Ted Talk by Sheryl Sandberg titled Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.

 Why I’m Done Trying to be “Man Enough 

Known as playing the hot and steamy “Rafael” on the hit series Jane the Virgin, Justin Baldoni spends his time as a very outspoken feminist off camera. In this Ted Talk series, he talks about the toxicity of deeming girls as weak and men as strong.

He inspires you to start changing the language that hinders girls from a young age and to start standing up for women and embracing the feminine qualities that men have because it doesn’t make them less than a man. This video talks about how men can be vulnerable, nurturing and sensitive and how the strength of a man revolves around all of these qualities. 

In order to see changes in how society treats women, we have to be role models for the girls that we are bringing up and show them that the sky is the limit. We have to stop patronizing them for possessing feminine qualities and explain why they should embrace them. 

In the photo above a little girl holds a sign that talks about how her coach told her that “she ran like a girl” and by the text that follows on the poster she holds in her tiny hands it shows that she didn’t find this offensive. She is proud to run like a girl because she is a girl and there is nothing wrong with that!