Our Own Worst Enemies by R. K., New City, NY
"It's not that engineering thing again, is it?"
"Well yes, Mrs. Black, we are going to the national competition."
"I don't think I can sign this permission slip, Rachel. You've already been absent for two school trips this year."
I didn't like my English teacher from day one, but now I really had a reason to detest her. Of course she took her newspaper students on trips every two weeks, but hypocrisy wasn't supposed to be one of her ideals, only discrimination against her fellow females.
Being a female who excels in math and science is an outstanding accomplishment, but I never thought I would be discouraged to excel in my field of interest.
Last year, I joined the engineering team in my school because I felt it would be enjoyable and educational. I became interested when some of the boys told me about their monumental success the year before. They explained to me that they felt awkward in Washington, because they were the only team without a female member. So I agreed, not because I was a girl, but because I wanted to be an engineer.
A number of girls arrived for the introductory meeting, and I was enthusiastic for the upcoming contest. However, as the work got harder and the hours got longer, the girls disappeared. For most meetings, I was the only girl in a technology lab. I was fascinated with the whole world around me, but some of the boys were not as thrilled as I was. When I asked to help, the boys would give me menial jobs, like cleaning up after them or getting them tools. This was not my idea of fun. I was being discriminated against simply because of my gender.
I put up with this treatment a while longer, until a female teacher of mine started discriminating against me as well. She was not going to let me be absent from her class for that "engineering thing" again. I was not surprised that she did not give this kind of treatment to the boys.
I had had enough. From that moment on, I would forget that I was a female and they were not. I participated more with the project, and I became an integral part of the team. Granted, I did receive "girl jokes" all the time, but I was more respected by my fellow students as well as by my advisers.
In the end, all the hard work did pay off. We went to Washington and came back with first-place medals and a hefty money prize as well. To show appreciation to that teacher who didn't want me going on the trip, the other members of the team and I all wore our medals to her class. She was the only teacher who did not congratulate us on our victory. Again, I was not surprised.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.