Working with girls and young women to become environmental leaders

Over the past two years I had an amazing and challenging opportunity to work in local public high schools through our program on environmental health. I discovered a lot of things about this younger generation: They are very smart, even those who don’t do well academically.

They are far more informed about the environment than their parents’ generation. They had no trouble understanding the complex issues I was teaching, particularly on toxic substances and hormone disrupting chemicals and their effect on human health and the environment. And they are good at making connections. 

I also learned that gender dynamics have not changed much since I was in high school. The boys in the classes I was in talk much, much more than girls, act out more, jump up to be team captains during competitions, call out their answers, and generally dominate classroom interactions. Now don’t get me wrong, I really liked these guys. They came from very disadvantaged backgrounds about which they could talk clearly and with honesty. We talked a lot about health justice and environmental racism and they had a lot to say. And even now, I can remember their faces and voices as well as their points of view.

But the girls. I had to really work to try and create space for them. It was difficult and I had real trouble with this, despite understanding class dynamics and being committed to their taking their place. Most of the boys took any space as easily as they breathed. And the girls seemed accustomed to this and weren’t going to fight it.

In fact, it seemed easier for them to just keep their heads down and stay quiet. 

BCAQc relies on membership dues and private donations to stay in operation. Membership entitles you to advance notice of seminars and workshops as well as a subscription to our electronic newsletter— BCAQc Connected.

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For twenty five years — with your support — BCAQc has been working hard to get vital information about environmental and chemical links to breast cancer to the public, and we now know that our message is being heard.

We ask you to consider a financial gift to Breast Cancer Action Quebec to help us to continue to get this vital information to the public.

There are many ways you can be involved: volunteer, write a letter to the editor, book an educational workshop for your school, community group or work place.

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