Written by Natalie Dreyer, 11th Grade, NY, USA
She does what is expected of her,
She excels in the shadows.
Her brilliance is unrecognized.
She musters up the courage to speak;
The vultures swarm.
She shrinks as she allows them encompass her;
Closer. Closer. Closer.
She cowers under the light of the vast microscope thrust upon her,
Every movement, every word she utters,
The vultures advance.
She is silent.
2. She is an individualist,
She thrives in the daylight.
Her brilliance, still unrecognized.
She rebels; she creates her own path.
The vultures swarm,
She continues on her path, undeterred.
A woman standing firmly on her ground,
Two feet planted.
She cannot afford to be silent.
Women in positions of power are thrust under a microscope. Each action, success or failure is: examined, dissected, critically analyzed, and used as ammunition. Groundbreaking women; the first woman on a town council, executive board, or executive position; are held to higher standards than their predecessors. They are likely to take the brunt of blame for issues completely unrelated to their tenure in positions of power. Society deems traits favorable for men as simply unacceptable for women.
They tell her:
Her confidence is cockiness.
Her thoughtfulness shows weakness.
Perhaps most frustratingly, women hold themselves and each other to these unrealistic standards.
Question: Why do women feed into this blatant hypocrisy?
Answer: We are taught to.
On average, women in governmental positions must be asked three times in order to accept the opportunity. This is a common trend as women often scoff when presented with opportunities to put themselves in places of power. This is not due to lack of qualifications (many women are more qualified than their male counterparts), rather the result of values instilled at a young age. Although in the last few decades, many opportunities have been opened up to women, the idea that women should be soft spoken and weak prevails, at least subliminally. In that regard, the education system has failed young women.
The only way to get women into places of power, a place that they rightfully have earned, is for women to be louder. More women need to advocate for change in education to encourage the younger generation to step up to new heights. Only then will change be evident.
Cliche and true, the power lies in the hands of the next generation.