Claire Weiss is a PE teacher and curriculum developer in San Francisco.
Suggested questions for discussing the articles in Claire’s Text Set:
- After reading the article, what are you inspired to do?
- If you could meet any of the people featured in the article, who would it be and why? What would you want to do with them? What would you want to ask them?
- What are your main take-aways from this article? What conversations could you have with friends or family based on these?
- Do you relate to this article? Why or why not?
How do the articles you selected reflect your perspective on women's history?
Women's history has been shaped by both the renowned role models, in this case the Michelle Obama's and the Lupita Nyong'os of the world, but also by the unsung everyday heroes, in this case the fearless females of the 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking Co and so many more. I believe that famous celebrities, politicians and activists play an important role in changing public perception of the power of women, but so do our mothers, sisters, teachers, classmates, friends, community members and more. I think these articles are a perfect example that people are powerful on every level, despite their notoriety, age, education, background, experience and more. We should continue to celebrate girls and women internationally, locally and frequently.
What has led you to do the work you do today?
I have always been an extremely active person who prides myself on being true to my talents and passions, despite society telling me otherwise. My whole life I challenged gender stereotypes in Girl Scouts, sports, outdoor adventuring, and now as a Physical Education teacher, which is still a male-dominated field. I continually hear "that's a girl sport / push-up / color", "girls can't _____" and I love presenting content in a way that challenges students' thinking around those topics. I think sports is a microcosm of gender issues, as we have come so far in what women are allowed and expected to do, however, there is still so much work to be done. I think the Women's World Cup last year was a prime example of the achievement but also the continued struggle.
Women who inspire Claire:
My grandma attended teacher college in the 1930's, a time where it was totally uncommon for women to do so. She was a phenomenal kindergarten teacher who was very respected and active in the community, all while successfully raising four children and caring for a husband sick with polio. My mom attended law school in the early 1980's, held leadership positions most often occupied by men and in her last year was pregnant with my sister. She held highly competitive and sought-after law jobs, all while raising four children, volunteering in international and local organizations and so much more. She was the first female president of her Rotary Club and has received countless awards and recognition for her selfless community activism. In the most polite, generous and graceful of ways, my grandma and mother challenged gender norms in place. They are inspirational leaders and women, who I can proudly call family members.
Books that have influenced how Claire thinks about women’s history:
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
My memory is that these were the first noteworthy books written by women with female characters that were complex and powerful, especially in an environment that was designed to keep them down. In college, I was heavily influenced by Gloria Anzaldúa's Boderlands: La/Frontera because of her eloquent and honest writing about identity struggles as a Latina woman and more.