Georgina Emerson '09 MALS '14 on Closing Gender Gaps by Changing How We Teach

In this interview with Adam Torres, Georgina Emerson talks about redefining the language of power, reframing history to focus more on women, and creating a more equitable world for future generations. Her organization, Teach About Women, and her book, Women, Gender and Power: A New Global History, both seek to transform the way we teach about the past so we can build a better future.

How did the Teach About Women journey begin?

After completing her education, Emerson was working as a writer and high school teacher. When presented with an opportunity to teach a course on feminism, she started looking for resources on women in power throughout history to add to the curriculum. "One of my favorite writers published a new book called 'Women and Power' just in time," she recalls, but she soon realized that, while feminism was openly discussed in academic circles, a wide gap remained between those circles and the general public.

"In the state guidelines for teaching, I found out that on average, kids graduate from high school having heard the names of 10 women in total in their history classrooms," Emerson says. "There is no mention of gender, or race, or any of the  factors that work against women seeking equal pay in any of the finance and economics courses, or the courses on civic participation. The fact that we were sending inaccurate messages to young people about power and women's roles didn't sit right with me, and soon, the book started taking shape."

The situation, she explains, is urgent. One indicator of gender disparity across the world: globally, 67 percent of girls self-select out of high-level math and science classes before the age of 15. 

To address the problem, Emerson stresses the importance of incorporating gender equity into every aspect of school life, from curriculum to hiring and sports policies, as well as giving students the skills and knowledge they need to close gender gaps in leadership. That's the basis of Teach About Women, a nonprofit organization of educators working to put gender equality at the center of school life. "With our team of 20 teachers, Teach About Women seeks to change how and what we're teaching young generations," she says.

For the full podcast click on: Mission Matters