I look back at most of the things I have written this semester and I am baffled, because it is 2016. A lot of the things we are talking about in the media — with our friends and in general — should not be an issue anymore, yet they are. Today, I am going to further add to this collection. How? By telling you that an English STEM competition targeted toward young women was won by a 13-year-old boy.
England’s EDF Energy company launched a campaign called the #PrettyCuriousChallenge for 11- to 16-year-old girls as a way of encouraging a greater female population in the STEM area, something that has been an issue for years. However, EDF then opened up this challenge to everyone as a way to demonstrate fairness.
#PrettyCurious was initiated to address the unfairness in the STEM gender demographic, yet it was opened up to all genders to be fair. If this were not extremely irritating, the lack of logic in this statement would be absolutely hilarious. Equality cannot be achieved without realizing — and fixing — the inequality.
The theme for the challenge was “to think of ideas for a connected home bedroom product.” One of the finalists thought of a smart-fridge system that would minimize waste, and other finalists — all of them girls — thought of smart curtains and sleep monitoring systems. However, it was a video game controller made by Joshua that won the competition.
However impressive the video game controller was, and I will objectively say that it was very impressive, how does it represent a product that connects the home and bedroom? In the gender sphere that this theme was implicitly advocating, it would have maybe been slightly, very slightly, comforting if Joshua would have stuck to the theme. How did he win anyway? Why did he win?
I do worry about the conversations these issues bring about. Feminism shouldn’t always be negative, and it shouldn’t always be focused on how patriarchy lets women down. We need to have positive conversations and sadly, the only way to do so is to stop things like this from happening. It is a vicious circle, and we have to end it.
Let us not depend on negative publicity to start talking about an issue. Let us not add men to an event out of the desire for press coverage. Let us be confident in our abilities to lure a crowd, talk about feminism as a whole and positively demonstrate the way that feminism should be spoken about.