I remember my high school math class. When it came time to contribute, answer a question, go to the board to complete an equation – it was always, always a boy who raised his hand. There were a few boys who were recognized as the leaders, the smart ones, the ones who got the answers right. And no one interfered with their right to be chosen.

Math equations on blackboard.Question is, who else knew the right answer, but wasn’t raising a hand? There must have been some girls who knew because, when the grades came out, there were girls who received A’s, even A+’s. But we rarely heard from them.

A Girl is Trying to Correct This

Today there is a young lady who is trying to balance the participation equation. Her name is Alice Paul Tapper. Noticing, as I think all girls do, that her peers were not participating, she worked with her girl scout troop to develop a merit patch to encourage and reward girls who raised their hands in class. And she wrote a book!

Wouldn’t it have been lovely to have such encouragement as a young girl? Understanding that you could contribute, that it was okay to join in, would have been liberating and empowering. Isn’t it difficult to stay silent through an entire high school career if you know the answers? This habit of staying silent is a hard one to break.

I hope these girl scouts are empowered to be brave and can continue to contribute throughout their lives. We believe that professional women will prosper if they too raise their hands. Whether through contributing at staff meetings or signing up to give a presentation, we believe that self-confidence will grow and this will lead to advancement, promotion and inclusion. Raise your hand. The world will be better for it.