ExxonMobil Statement in Response to JCPenney, Forever 21 Marketing and Selling T-shirts with Anti-Learning Messages
IRVING, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Erika Ebbel Angle, former Miss Massachusetts, MIT graduate, and founder/CEO of Science from Scientists, issued a statement in response to recent clothing targeting young girls with messages perpetuating a negative stereotype of intelligence and dedication to education.
STATEMENT: Novelty shirts with slogans like 'Allergic to Algebra' and 'I'm too pretty for homework' send damaging messages to young girls that it's not okay to be smart. They undermine efforts to reverse trends that indicate girls would rather be popular than competent, and they thwart the work being done to counter the stereotypes and misperceptions that girls can be both smart and popular.
As a former Miss Massachusetts and MIT graduate, I've dedicated my life to proving that beauty pageant contestants can be smart AND accomplished -- that women in science and math can be attractive AND personable. As founder and CEO of Science from Scientists, I've worked alongside leading companies like ExxonMobil and pioneers like Dr. Sally Ride to demonstrate the diverse array of careers available to today's girls and inspire them in these fields. We're working to reverse the trends that show that in the 4th grade, the number of girls and boys who like math and science is about the same, but in as little as two years, more girls seem to become disengaged.
In order for us to turn the tide on the underrepresentation of women in math and science fields, we must face head-on those who limit girls' achievement through subtle and overt messages like these. I commend JCPenney and Forever 21 for pulling these T-shirts, but there is still work to be done. I welcome both of them to join me and others in dispelling these negative stereotypes and removing barriers that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.
--Erika Ebbel Angle, former Miss Massachusetts and founder/CEO of Science from Scientists, a Boston-based non-profit encouraging interest in STEM subjects amongst fourth-eighth grade students.