Female-centered clubs thrive at McLean

Influential clubs continue operations as Women’s History Month comes to a close

Even in this day and age, women are subjected to comments dismissing their accomplishments or making them feel inferior to their male counterparts. From backhanded remarks like being told “women belong in the kitchen,” or that they need learn to “take a joke and stop being so sensitive,” the marginalization of women in school and in the workplace has continued to persist into this generation.
March is National Women’s History Month, and McLean has multiple clubs whose contributions help create a more inclusive environment at McLean, where women take on leadership roles to create change.
Unified girl empowerment clubs around the school such as the Girls Leadership Committee (GLC), Girls Who Code and the Feminist Club use this month to empower women while acting on issues that matter to them.
“Women’s rights are human rights, and half of the planet is female. You can’t really celebrate humanity [when in] so many countries around the world, women are treated like second class citizens,” Feminist Club sponsor Karen Wolpert said.

Girls Leadership Committee (GLC)

McLean’s GLC is a club focused on spreading awareness about the problems girls face in the community while providing a support system for them.
“It’s really important to be able to highlight women’s accomplishments and consider their actions in the world and how we reflect upon them, just like we have months to highlight different types of minorities,” said junior Vidya Suri, GLC co-president. “We need to improve our way of looking at the world, and through Women’s History Month we can expose some of these problems and look at them more.”
The purpose of GLC is to encourage all generations of women to feel free to pursue any career path, even if they are male-dominated.
“There’s a huge stigma against women within science fields,” Suri said. “For example, when we get into high sciences and mathematics, you’re going to notice a huge drop in the number of women who are actually within these fields. Over time, we’ve kind of built up, as a society, a belief that women can’t do these jobs.”
Suri is dedicated to fostering an environment where female activism is pursued and women are recognized all the time, not just during March.
“I think that every month should be considered a women’s month, because we can’t just set aside a single month for women’s activism, or else nothing gets done,” Suri said.
In honor of National Women’s History Month, the club is held a menstrual product drive for local women’s shelters. Menstrual products are often systemically overlooked as a luxury, but they are just as necessary as any other hygiene products and toiletries. During last year’s drive, the club collected over 64,000 menstrual products. The drive’s success has helped make the GLC a well-known name in a school where many clubs compete for attention.
“I think a lot of the work we do has led to the club growing and expanding really significantly,” Suri said.
Community members were able to donate menstrual products at the drop-off bins around the community, including at the front of the school.

Girls Who Code

Members of Girls Who Code are given strong female role models and the ability to explore their interests in coding while meeting others who share the same passion.

Girls are taught how to program through Java and Python workshops in order to encourage them to venture into male-dominated tech fields.
“There’s a deficit of women in the [science and technology] field,” Girls Who Code sponsor Karyn Kolly said. “I think girls and women always have a creative side that they want to show, and what people don’t realize is that computer science has a lot to do with creativity.”
Coding isn’t the only purpose of the club; leaders aim to create a welcoming, innovative environment during meetings.
“The main purpose of Girls Who Code is to build female leadership, because we offer multiple leadership positions, and then also to have girls be able to come together in a fun place to learn,” Kolly said.
In addition to equipping girls with the skills necessary to pursue a wide range of career options, the club recognizes women who have excelled in computer science.
“It is important to focus more on women in the technology field, as they are still the minority,” Kolly said.

Cancer Kids First

During National Women’s History Month, women at McLean believed it was important to focus on empowering future generations of girls.
“Female empowerment is super important, which is why a lot of our leadership team is primarily women,” said junior Olivia Zhang, president of the non-profit organization Cancer Kids First. “I want to give other girls the chance to step up in a leadership role.”
Zhang’s organization raises money for children with cancer, and she has won many awards for her work, including World’s Top Patient Leader, awarded to her by WEGO Health.
“Passionate young girls may want to start a non-profit, be part of one or just take on a leadership role in general,” Zhang said. “I hope that by seeing how most of our contributors are female, these girls will understand that a strong group of women, like us, is capable of creating change,” Zhang said. “It is important for them to see there is a place for women in leadership roles.”