You’re Pretty Smart…For a Girl

This week I read a few articles about Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old California high school student who won a $50,000 award at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fairfor her invention of a device that can charge your cell phone in thirty seconds.

First things first.

How awesomely awesome would a thirty second charge be?

Sure, there is room here to make jokes and write poignant commentary about the ironic way cell phones have done more to disconnect the world rather than connect it therefore making her invention a rather sad technological step in human development, but I’m too distracted by my texting to write something coherent about that.

Let me just say:

30 second charge! w00t!

Second, Eesha is no slouch. She clearly worked hard to develop “a new supercapacitor, which is basically an energy storage device which can hold a lot of energy in a small amount of volume”. She will use the prize money to fund part of her education at Harvard this fall. After that? “I will be setting the world on fire,” she said. (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/05/18/saratoga-teens-research-takes-science-world-by-storm/)

I like her. She’s smart and confident.

Oh, by the way, she’s also pretty. Why does that matter? It doesn’t, except when reading about Eesha and her accomplishments I came across way too many comments talking about her beauty. It’s as if her beauty and intelligence were a shocking pairing. A rare event.

She’s pretty AND smart? Wow, that’s doubly impressive. I wonder how she balanced her beauty regimen with her multi-variable calculus homework.

I didn’t find one comment about the looks of the young men who also won.

He’s smart AND buff? Whatever. Who cares.

It’s frustrating to be here again. Women have long been rewarded for their perceived beauty and have long been criticized, by themselves and others, when their beauty didn’t meet the standards of the day. But we’ve been working our asses off trying to get everyone to see women as more than a collection of measurements and roles.

Obviously our work is not yet done.

I’ll concede, in life, looks matter. They do. For example, if I didn’t find my husband at least a little attractive I might never have agreed to the second date. But intellect is the real power player. Intellect holds all the cards. Intellect is why I agreed to date number three.

Intellect keeps people connected and it trumps beauty every time.

When measured against the societal norms of the early twenty-first century Eesha Khare may very well be a beautiful young woman. I don’t know her, but I hope she feels beautiful. I hope she feels respected. More importantly, I hope she sees herself as a person without a need for external definitions, validations, or limitations.

Congratulations, Eesha. I can’t wait to supercharge my phone.

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