FOCUS: Feminist SCHS clubs strive to support students in their academic careers, mindsets and beyond

Over the past six years, many SCHS students have founded feminist clubs that strive to promote gender equality and support young female students in their high school careers and beyond.

Girls Achieving in Non-traditional Subjects, PERIOD Club, Girls Empowerment Project and Girls Who Code are all clubs with their own approach to advocating for gender equality. They serve to make a difference by providing a safe space for students and helping them feel supported in the Bruin community through engaging activities, community service, fundraising and more.

Though they share similar feminist motives, each club offers a different set of experiences, ranging from educational presentations to schoolwide service events.

Senior Joanna Luna is a dedicated member of GAINS, an organization that aims to encourage young women to seek careers in fields traditionally dominated by men, such as architecture and engineering. As a member, she has the opportunity to listen to female guest speakers share their experiences in their professions as well as receive helpful advice for entering the work field. Luna has benefitted from many key takeaways through attending these meetings.

“I learned that there are so many unique career paths that women are now dominating or becoming more involved in,” Luna said.

Being a part of the club influenced her choice to pursue a career in biology. One day, Luna hopes to motivate others to explore career choices and learn to be more confident about themselves as she did in GAINS.

Junior GAINS officer Tara Khambadkone has also benefited from being a part of the club as well.

“GAINS has taught me how to deal with misogyny and sexism in the workplace and how to not let it affect me,” Khambadkone said. “Along the way, I’ve learned about several interesting career paths and have felt more confident pursuing what I’m interested in.”

PERIOD Club, first introduced in April 2020, is a recent addition to the Bruin community. This year, the club has honed in on period poverty and how to reduce the cultural shame around menstruation by collecting and distributing menstrual products to people in need, and advocate for change in Santa Clara County to advance towards menstrual equity.

According to sophomore PERIOD officer Kaitlyn Nguyen, the largest event the club has held was a menstrual product drive, where volunteers could donate pads and tampons to those in need. They additionally hosted a Postcards for Voters event in October.

“As this is our first year as a club, it has been so exciting and heartwarming to see our club grow and how dedicated the members are to the movement,” Nguyen said. “Through PERIOD, we have been able to give back to our community, and it’s been really fun and eye-opening working with food banks and homeless shelters to help our community during the pandemic who may not have access to proper period products.”

Girls Empowerment Project strives to inspire and uplift young female minds by holding informative meetings to provide community service opportunities and to address issues that impact women worldwide.

Senior GEP officer Erika Martinez uses her creative skills to design club merchandise and assists in promoting the club on social media.

“When I joined my freshman year, I knew this club was something that I wanted to be a part of for as long and as much as possible,” Martinez said. “The meetings would be so heartwarming and informative, and I loved the energy of being in a room full of people who cared about the issues that I cared for.”

Since its founding in 2015, GEP has held many events for students to be more involved in the Bruin community, such as working in close collaboration with the Breast Cancer Awareness club to write letters to breast cancer patients and survivors. According to Martinez, the Letter Writing Event was a success, receiving over 65 letters and with members receiving about 32 hours in total. Their plans continue on with a menstrual product drive in collaboration with PERIOD Club set to happen in March 2021.

Girls Who Code enables students to navigate the male-dominated world of STEM and its fields, particularly computer science. Members learn to develop their problem-solving and creative skills by attending informative coding workshops.

GWC has inspired junior Maia Kumar to further her knowledge about the stark inequalities in STEM between women and men, and more specifically, women of color.

“It’s made me think deeply about where we’re headed as a society and how we can use these sophisticated technologies to our advantage in order to make a tangible difference in the lives of the vulnerable by tackling pressing issues of our time,” Kumar said. “I’m humbled to be a part of this club that has helped bring out the inner feminist in me, who believes that it is time that women defy the status quo and foster an environment where girls are no longer afraid of the obstacles that are bound to come their way.”

All of these clubs have taken a responsibility in the Bruin community to educate students about important issues surrounding gender and encourage discussion on how to promote gender equality in both the education environment and the workplace.