Women Dominating Their Fields, But Not Always the News

Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: October 25th, 2019
Brendan Largay

Are you following any of these names in the news or on your social networks: Simone Biles, Coco Gauff, Jessica Meir, Christina Koch, Katie Bouman, and Brigid Kosgei?

If you aren't familiar with Simone Biles, I encourage you to tune into the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo this summer. Simone Biles is the single most decorated female gymnast in history, and at the 2019 FIG World Championships had not one, but two separate athletic feats named after her. One of them, a double-twisting double backflip, has changed gymnastic floor routines, although she is the only one who can perform it consistently. Simone Biles is a young woman who is changing the sport before our eyes.

Coco Gauff, a fifteen-year-old tennis phenom, won her first WTA event less than a month ago, but the hype around her began well before that. Coco captured national attention in both Wimbledon and US Open competition. In the latter, she lost to Naomi Osaka, who, during the post-match interview, ceded her time to Gauff so that the young competitor could speak to the journey she had taken to arrive at that moment. A month later, Gauff would become the youngest tennis champion since 2004.

Jessica Meir and Christina Koch made history by "just doing our job." The pair completed the first all-female spacewalk outside of the International Space Station on October 18. These remarkable scientists trained, along with fellow NASA astronaut Drew Morgan, for six years to be ready for this mission. 

Katie Bouman—and a shout out to my Capstone mentee, Maya G—is the 29-year-old woman who played a prominent role on the team that built an algorithm that made visualizing a black hole through a telescope possible. Maya is studying black holes for her Capstone this year, and her research has piqued my interest in space and gravity. A photo of Ms. Bouman watching the image of the black hole materialize on her computer screen went viral.

Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to break the 2-hour marathon time in Vienna this month, clocking 1:59:41. Although this staggering feat was not accomplished on a record-eligible course, it was met with worldwide accolades. Fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei achieved something equally remarkable that same weekend in Chicago by shattered the women's world marathon record. Her time of 2:14:4 surpassed the previous record holder's time by 81 seconds on a record-eligible course. Brigid's performance beat the longest standing record in men's or women's running history.

At Belmont Day, we strive to provide models of excellence and success for our students across a spectrum of different identifiers. It is important to highlight women's achievements that should be dominating headlines but often receive a noticeably quieter and shorter showcase. Although we might be tempted to ask our children, "Aren't these women impressive?" instead, we might ask, "Do you think the world would have responded differently to men who had achieved these heights?" And, when the answer is yes, then the question could be, "Why?"

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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