When a 4th grade teacher found a note by one of her students asking another girl if she wanted to join a “female empowerment” club, she couldn’t help but smile. She sent a picture of the note to her friend, Elly Zupko, who immediately posted the note on Twitter.
Zupko is the founder of a non-profit that was created to celebrate women in STEM. The tweet went viral quickly with the vast majority of people loving that a 4th grader already has the drive and initiative to start a group celebrating and empowering women. It now has almost 150,000 likes. And the tweet is sure to get many more now that Hillary Clinton has retweeted it with a message of her own.
In a time period of great uncertainty about the fate of women’s rights in this country (and with many mourning that our country didn’t elect its first female president), the note this little girl passed is a welcome and positive reminder of the effects feminism and positive portrayals of kick-ass women can have on young girls.
Uproxx was able to touch base with Zupko about the tweet, and she’s thrilled with the positive reactions and love it has gotten. Many responses, she says, have been quite emotional. Though there have been male critics who have popped out of the woodwork to get very angry (about something that shouldn’t affect them at all).
“Most negative responses have accused me of faking the note for ‘likes’ or to advance a feminist agenda,” Zupko said. It’s a kind of sexism that assumes that a 4th grade girl couldn’t possibly have had feminist thoughts or ideas on her own, and that makes Zupko sad. “This note was very real,” she said. “And stemmed directly from a girl feeling the effects of sexism even at such a young age.”
“I’m sad to see that people think we would have to fake something like this because they don’t believe in the power and intellect of the generation we’re raising,” Zupko continued.
It’s a sweet note from a young girl who is turning her energy towards empowering other girls her age as a leader, and frankly, a note that shouldn’t be so controversial. And yet, some people are so threatened by the idea of women leading that even a child’s club causes them to lose it and start name calling on twitter.
Which, as Zupko sees it, is all the more reason and proof why clubs like these for girls should exist. They need a safe place to grow into strong, empowered women.
Luckily, the girl’s teacher sprung into action to help the girls start their club by getting a very excited administration and parents on board. Meetings are scheduled to start in April, and the club with be focused on STREAM, which is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with arts and religion added in. With STEM fields still being predominantly male-filled and oriented, the program will focus on involving the girls and hopefully empowering more women to go into STEM.
Zupko’s non-profit SMLX Good will be donating books and posters highlighting women in STEM to the club, and are currently accepting donations that they’ll pass along to the school. You can donate to the girls’ empowerment club here. Make sure to note in your donation that you’d like the funds sent to the female empowerment club.