Blood, sweat and tears – that’s the currency your pay in for a Ph.D. As someone who’s currently knee-deep in her research, and still far from the finish line, I have great respect for people who proudly let the world know what they have gone through. It’s not showing off: It’s putting a label on your skills. So when I read about Dr. Fern Riddell, who spoke up when she was reduced to “Ms. Riddell” in her field of expertise as a historian, I was outraged by the response to her tweet. Some – mostly men – found it appalling that a woman would insist on being referred to by her well-earned title. Dr. Riddell was humiliated online in various ways, but it boiled down to one thing—Women, empowered by their intellect, who are not afraid to show what they know do not meet the standards that we are still being confronted with. Apparently, women have to be modest, mute, and demure. Our great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers have one hundred years fighting this ridiculous demand – and yet it continues.

Dr. Riddell’s tweet reminded me of situations during my time at University, where young women (well-educated, highly motivated and experts on the most diverse of subjects) would suddenly hide their light under a bushel, whereas many young men had no problems talking confidently about subjects they had no clue about. So while #immodestwomen is a powerful hashtag among female professionals, we desperately need #immodestgirls out there. This problem needs to be attacked at the root, encouraging girls to show what they are able to do from the very start. Be it singing, or taking care of animals, or speaking several languages – everyone can have expertise and passions to be proud of. Let’s use hashtag activism for the right reasons: Equipping our girls with the self-assurance to tell the world what they ARE able, that they CAN do it.

Kristina Kraemer
Junior editor
Girl News International 

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