The First Female Scholar

The First Female Scholar
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  • Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a girl named Alex.1 At school, Alex was very bright. She learned all of the theories and philosophies there was and was the smartest student in the school.2
  • One day, an invitation arrived asking for the brightest student at the school to go to a conference.3 The invitation was from the King, who wanted to compile all the knowledge in the universe into books.4 There was a discussion in the school about who to send for this conference.5 After a lot of thought, they all agreed that Alex was the brightest scholar in the school and was sent to the conference.
  • Who should go?
  • I think Alex deserves to go!
  • When Alex reached the conference, she was taken aback. She was the only female in the room!6 She went up to the panel to take her seat but suddenly, there was huge uproar — people in the audience were staring and yelling at her.7
  • Why is she here?
  • A woman, who think she can join our conference?
  • Preposterous!
  • 1Bunch, Charlotte and Roxanna Carrillo. “Women’s rights are human rights: A concept in the making.” In Women and Girls Rising, edited byEllen Chesler and Terry McGovern, 32-50. London: Routledge, 2016.  2UN Women’s Global HeforShe Initiative to Drive GenderEquality. Abuja: SyndiGate Media Inc, 2018. https://www.lib.uwo.ca/cgibin/ezpauthn.cgi?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/2117769374?accountid=15115.
  • Everybody looked at the king for a solution.8 The king pondered for a moment and said “Girl, there must be a misunderstanding. A woman cannot sit on the scholars’ panel.” Alex was shocked and did not know what to say.9 She took a deep breath and said, “pardon me, King! I was invited to join the discussion. I was chosen to be here!” “I don't remember inviting you," said the King. “You sent the invitation for the brightest scholar at the school. I am the brightest in my school. On the invitation there was nothing about only male scholars being allowed,” answered Alex.10  “Why?” asked Alex. “Because you are a woman,” murmured one of the men. “You will not feel comfortable around so many men” answered another man.11
  • Girl, there must be a misunderstanding. A woman cannot sit on the scholars’ panel.
  • 3David, Miriam. "Women and Gender Equality in Higher Education?" Education Sciences 5, no. 1 (2015): 10-25. 4Arat, Zehra F. Kabasakal. "Feminisms, Women's Rights, and the UN: Would Achieving Gender Equality Empower Women?" American Political Science Review 109, no. 4 (2015): 674-689. 5Goss, Kristin A. and American Council of Learned Societies. The Paradox of Gender Equality: How American Women's Groups Gained and Lost their Public Voice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.
  • Frustrated, Alex said, “I do not understand. What does me being a woman have to do with anything?”12 One man answered, “Women do not participate in things like this, you should be cooking!”13 The whole conference nodded and chimed in agreement causing another uproar. “Let us have a discussion,” the king said to calm the crowd. “If she wins, she can join the panel.14” Several liked the solution. They were sure that the girl will be humiliated by the other scholars and students. They discussed among themselves and selected an elderly scholar as their representative.15
  • Let us have a discussion, if she wins, she can join the panel.
  • 6Winthrop, Rebecca and Eileen McGivney. “Raising the global ambition for girls’ education.” In Women and Girls Rising, edited by Ellen Chesler and Terry McGovern, 287-296. London: Routledge, 2016. 7Fuller, Kay, Judith Harford, and Marianne Coleman. Gender and Leadership in Education: Women Achieving Against the Odds. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2016.
  • “So, by joining the discussion, what do you want to prove? That women are better than men?” Asked the elderly scholar.“No, sir. I do not want to prove anything. I am here to join the discussion like all of you. I think I am as capable as anyone else here to do so!16” said Alex, fearlessly. “But greater knowledge is not for women,17” said the elderly scholar. “I beg your pardon, sir, but why?” asked Alex. “Because females are not as smart as men,” said the elderly scholar. “Says who, sir?” she replies. “It is written in everything we have learned,18” he says.“Who wrote these things?” asked Alex. “They were written by our ancestors.” said the elderly scholar. “By ancestors do you mean our male ancestors?19” asked Alex again. “Yes, of course. By our male ancestors," said the elderly scholar. “How did our ancestors know that women have weaker intellect?” “I guess they noticed” said the elderly scholar, irritated. “But how? Please give me an example?” asked Alex again.“I do not remember.” Said the elderly scholar frustrated. “If you do not remember, how can you say that women are not as smart as men?”
  • 8Khan, Zohra and Nalini Burn. Financing for Gender Equality: Realising Women's Rights through Gender Responsive Budgeting. London, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 9Powell, Catherine and Hannah Chartoff. “Girls’ education as a peace and security issue: US policy toward Afghanistan.” In Women and Girls Rising, edited by Ellen Chesler and Terry McGovern, 297-308. London: Routledge, 2016. 10Waylen, Georgina. "Informal Institutions, Institutional Change, and Gender Equality." Political Research Quarterly 67, no. 1 (2014): 212-223. 11Eriksson‐Zetterquist, Ulla, David Renemark, Handelshögskolan, Centre for Business in Society, Göteborgs universitet, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI), and School of Business, Economics, and Law. "Can Changes to Gender Equality be Sustained?" Gender, Work & Organization 23, no. 4 (2016): 363-378.
  • Pardon me, King! I was invited to join the discussion. I was chosen to be here!
  • 12 Salinas, Patricia C. and Claudia Bagni. "Gender Equality from a European Perspective: Myth and Reality." Neuron 96, no. 4 (2017): 721-729. 13Rachel, Jewkes and Morrell Robert. "Hegemonic Masculinity, Violence, and Gender Equality." Men and Masculinities 21, no. 4 (2018): 547-571. 14Cho, Seo‐Young. "International Women's Convention, Democracy, and Gender Equality." Social Science Quarterly 95, no. 3 (2014): 719-739. 15American Association of University Women. Educational Foundation and American Institutes for Research. Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail our Children. New York: Marlowe & Co, 1999.
  • Women do not participate in things like this, you should be cooking!
  • I do not understand. What does me being a woman have to do with anything?
  • 16Psaki, Stephanie R., Katharine J. McCarthy, and Barbara S. Mensch. "Measuring Gender Equality in Education: Lessons from Trends in 43 Countries: Measuring Gender Equality in Education." Population and Development Review 44, no. 1 (2018): 117-142. 17Barash, David P. and Judith Eve Lipton. Gender Gap: The Biology of Male-Female Differences. London: Routledge, 2017. 18DiPrete, Thomas A. and Claudia Buchmann. The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and what it Means for American Schools. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013. 19Morris, Edward W. Learning the Hard Way: Masculinity, Place, and the Gender Gap in Education. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2012.
  • I do not remember.
  • If you do not remember, how can you say that women are not as smart as men?
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