Women’s History Month – Knights in Conversation

Womens History Month - Knights in Conversation

March marks Women’s History Month, a time of reflection, conversations, and empowerment for women across the Upper School(US) and beyond. To celebrate, The Vanguard brought together three student leaders of female affinity spaces: Naomi Hammerschlag, Nandita Aggarwal, and Eliza Cohen(all ’25 ), the presidents of FemCO, Girls in Finance, and Girls Advancing in STEM(GAINS), respectively. They talked about what it means to be a girl at the US and why Women’s History Month matters

Why is it important to have largely female spaces on campus? What does it mean to be a leader of one?

Naomi: I like the fact that my space is an affinity space as well. We can have a lot of discussions that are a little bit more vulnerable. In a coed space, it wouldn’t feel as inviting or welcoming to have those discussions. And so I feel so grateful to have this space because even if we’re not talking about some polarized issue in the media or some recent feminist development, it’s just a nice place to be surrounded by other girls who are like minded.

Nandita: Creating a space where girls feel empowered to try new things, especially in male dominated fields, is really nice. And then it also just creates a community where people can feel vulnerable and talk.


Eliza :With GAINS, a lot of it is connecting speakers to girls because those speakers can not only talk about their experiences in STEM but also what being a woman in that particular fi eld is like, and it sort of gives girls in the Upper School someone to look up to.


Nandita: I think it’s really good for girls to envision themselves in positions that are typically male dominated, so they feel like they can go into it.


What is it like to be a girl at the school?

: I think that being a girl at BB&N is slightly intimidating. We still have a lot of gender exclusion or separation. And I think it’s difficult to overcome that. But being a girl here is also empowering: we have a lot of female role models and teachers here that allow us to have those difficult discussions, and I just find that so empowering.

: I agree. I think that a lot of us have really great teachers and role models in the school, like people to look up to.



: I went to an all-girls school before I came to BB&N, so it was definitely a change. I’ve noticed in a lot of the honors and AP classes, there are definitely fewer girls than boys. We’re totally outnumbered.


: And sometimes they’ll say things that make it seem like the girls are not as smart as they are.



: It’s interesting because having those all-female spaces is important, but also on the flip side of that, you shouldn’t have to feel like you need an all-female space in the first place. GAINS is a great place, but also why don’t girls feel welcome elsewhere?


: I’m really happy we have all these spaces, but it’s a little sad we need to have them.



: It feels like sometimes, even if you have the right answer or propose the right ideas, you don’t. They don’t want to listen or prefer to speak over you.


What has the school done to help combat issues of gender exclusion?

: I think that we’ve done a lot of work to lower the walls across genders. I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever felt excluded from a space because I’m a girl. But it’s just intimidating to go into a space when you know that it’s probably going to be all boys.

: The faculty is really balanced. That’s helpful, because in any given class, it’s probably a 50/50 shot that you have a female teacher, and that’s always really nice to see. I don’t know if there’s necessarily a movement to encourage girls in particular to pursue AP and honors classes. Maybe it’s just a confidence thing in general. I think that’s partially where you see that discrepancy.

: There’s a lot of teachers who are great role models. It’s also really inspiring to see so many girls in leadership positions. I think the school has made a lot of strides to make it a more inclusive place where people feel more comfortable. And there’s more spaces for women to speak out and feel empowered.


What are you thinking about during this year’s Women’s History Month?

: In FemCO, I’ve really wanted to discuss women on either side of the aisle, like political division among women. It’s so important to just discuss with each other what we can do as a collective to break down those barriers and challenge patriarchal values and old traditions because they won’t go away unless we actually do something about it.

: In Girls in Finance Club, we are trying to highlight famous women, and we had some discussions talking about what it’s like to be a woman in finance or in business in general.


: With GAINS, we haven’t really done something for Women’s History Month because it’s more like it’s a women’s history month every month! Are there any changes you would like to see at the US regarding gender equality?


: At the club level, there’s a lot of girls who are in big leadership positions, but I think at the student council and school-wide level, it’s pretty disproportionate. It’s more my experience with honors and AP classes that the girls are very outnumbered.

: It’s so important to have FemCO and GAINS and all these empowering spaces, so that eventually, it will be proportionate in all these classes. It just sucks that there’s this weird imbalance between boys and girls.


: It would also just be cool to have just more friendly relationships across genders. It’s just so valuable to have male peers that you can reach out to and not feel intimidated if you’re wrong or if you need help.


: From the administrative level, a little bit more respect for these kinds of clubs. Making more of a point to say, ‘Hey, this is important.’

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