Ignorance isn’t bliss

Aditi Borde ’21 elaborates on why education and awareness are important issues in this day and age

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Aditi Borde ‘21, strode into her first day of engineering class on a brisk Tuesday morning. The boy sitting in the front row sneered at her. “Wrong room,” he jeered, “Home Ec is across the hall.”

“Must have mixed this one up with the sewing class,” snickered another across the room.

Even the teacher raised a skeptical eyebrow and questioned, “Are you sure you’re in the right place?”

The scene above never happened.

Borde is not, to our knowledge, enrolled in any special engineering courses, and she can’t remember any instances of being personally discriminated against on behalf of the fact that she’s a girl–but Borde does still believe gender equality is a big issue. And though we in America are  probably, for the most part, past the reaction above to girls engaging in the STEM fields, other parts of the world are not, and Borde wants to draw attention to the fact that in some places, a girl could draw that sort of reaction simply by stepping into any kind of classroom.

“[Gender equality is] a very big issue today. Women aren’t represented, respected, or given the same opportunities men are. […] There’s lots of discrimination and hatred towards them just because they’re a different gender,” Borde said.

Borde has been forming research presentations and papers around this subject for years, focusing largely on three key aspects: education, media, and body image. Borde feels that men are generally more accepted by society and the media than women, who are taught to be ashamed of their bodies and that they must look one way or another in order to be beautiful. Borde also firmly believes in changing accessibility to education around the world, especially for girls in third world countries. “Everyone should be educated–I think that’s a human right,” Borde said.

Borde identifies herself as a feminist confidently and without hesitation. “A lot of people think that the word is tabooed–they think, ‘angry feminist,’ as like a mad woman who hates men, who doesn’t believe in equality, who thinks women should be higher powered and men are inferior; but feminist means you believe in equality for everyone, and I definitely do believe in that, so I can say that I’m a feminist,” she said.

When asked what she’d change about the world, and what steps she’d personally take to further gender equality, Borde replied practically and with humility, saying that as one person, it would be difficult for her to try to change everyone’s viewpoints and alluding to the idea that if gifted with the ability to change one thing in the world, she wasn’t sure she’d act correctly. However, one of Borde’s main ideas for changes towards the world’s way of dealing with gender equality was just spreading awareness of the issue.

“It’s so subtle everywhere that you don’t even notice it. [For instance], if you go to Target, you see, in the baby section, [and] it’s very clear, light pink, light blue, and it shouldn’t be like that–gender is a social construct,” Borde said. She says her major goals would be to make sure everyone knew about the problem of gender inequality and just to make sure everyone had equal access to education in order to form their own opinions with a basis of knowledge and to make more informed decisions.

Fourteen year old Borde lives with her parents in Iowa City, Iowa, and has a 20 year old brother named Akash who attends Northwestern University in Chicago who describes Borde as “Confident, hardworking, funny, kind hearted, ambitious, and extra.” Akash previously attended West High as well and served as student senate president, and he’s a great inspiration for Borde–he’s a huge role model to her, and both describe their relationship as very close. Borde intends to follow his successful lead at West High.

As Borde put it, “I’m Indian, obviously, so obviously I–we do Indian things.” Borde participates in Indian Classical dancing and expressed anticipation at her graduation event coming up for it this summer in which she will dance for two hours straight. Borde also stated that her favorite place to ever have gone was India, simply because she was surrounded by her family and culture. Borde currently practices Hinduism, saying she was “born into it,” but would later like to explore different religions just to see what else is out there and better educate herself.

“I don’t think you ever find yourself,” Borde said. “I think there’s just, so much to explore and learn, and people just keep developing, people keep changing, and I’m still growing and learning, so I don’t think I’ve found myself.”

Borde’s best friend, Vivien Ho, ‘21, said on Borde, “She’s not very, like, serious a lot of the time, but when she is, she’s really supportive, and really helpful. She’s also […] a very interesting person, she’s really proud of who she is, and–just a really strong person, both physically and like–figuratively.”

Ho has been attending school with Borde since kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary, and Ho described Borde as her closest friend. “I probably talk to her more than I talk to my family, so, that’s probably saying something,” Ho admitted grinningly, and agreed that Borde definitely influenced her in choices and character.  “She usually will push me to do things that I don’t really want to do, but, [things that] I should[do],” Ho stated, adding that Borde provides a more outgoing and social counterpart to her own more basely introverted demeanor. “I think she’s pretty outgoing, like, with new people, which is kind of the opposite of me, ‘cause I don’t like talking to new people.”

Overall, Borde is a feminist who believes strongly in the powers of education and awareness. “There’s so many things to change about the world, in my opinion there’s so much we can do better, I think there’s not just one thing.[…] But the world is changing, I guess it’s always changing,” Borde said. And honestly, who could really disagree with her?
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