International Women’s Day celebrations organized at WHS
April 9, 2018
Following International Women’s Day on March 8th, the WHS Women Empowerment Club organized a symposium for the entirety of the school population. Held on March 16th, this event consisted of discussions lead by both teachers and students about women in society, as well as a panel centered around the experiences of women in the workplace.
Sophomore club president Bharathi Subbiah explained how the idea for the day stemmed from the event that WHS teachers created last year for International Women’s Day.
“The idea for the symposium came from the teach-in led by the teachers last year on international women’s day,” Subbiah said. “The club really wanted to recreate that as we felt the discussions were really good. This time we wanted it to be student run and moderated but also include teachers as well.”
With this model to work from, the club had a somewhat clear vision of the structure of the day, although they had ample liberty in creating the content. Discussion topics ranged from women’s representation in the media to conversations about micro aggression and the treatment of women of color.
In addition to these broad topics, the club members also wanted to tackle issues more specific to WHS and to be more inclusive with the male population. In particular, there were also discussions about women in the classroom, dress code and how men can be allies.
Sophomore Cole Zetterquist participated in many of these more specific and inclusive discussions, including ones about masculinity and the dress code. According to Zetterquist, the topics were well respected and produced stimulating conversations.
“I loved how everyone who participated was so involved and on-topic,” Zetterquist said. “I felt like people really understood how important the symposium was, and took it extremely seriously. I also loved how each group I was in got so deep into the topic, to the point where it felt like a normal conversation, rather than a ‘socratic seminar’ type setting.”
In addition to male inclusion, the incorporation of teachers in the discussions enriched the experience and offered a unique opportunity previously unavailable to students.
“I also loved being able to have these types of conversations with faculty members, because it was cool connecting with adults in the community who I haven’t even talked to before,” Zetterquist said.
After such engaging discussions, the panel began during fourth block and consisted of four women, a non-profit founder, artist, entrepreneur and scientist.
“I think the speaker panel was the highlight of the symposium,” sophomore club member Nikki Liu said. “It was very interesting to learn about the women’s jobs and their experiences.”
It seemed refreshing to have speakers who came from outside the WHS community that could describe the struggles they encounter in their respective lives.
“They talked about how life was like growing up and some of the bias they had to face and continue to face,” Subbiah said. “It was really interesting to hear voices outside of Weston high school!”
Overall, the symposium dug deep into a crucial topic and explored the many facets of the role of women in the world. Moreover, the event created a platform for student discussion and demonstrated how to make traditionally difficult topics more inclusive.
“I feel like the most important thing I took away was that no matter what the topic is, ANYONE can have something insightful and meaningful to say,” Zetterquist said. “The symposium did a really great job of putting a huge variety of minds together, which resulted in very important points and ideas being shared.”