Alumna Selena (Khan) Rezvani ’95 is a force for positive change. The women’s leadership speaker, author, consultant, and self-identified “culture disruptor” empowers women to reach for top leadership roles and helps employers create forward-thinking cultures where female talent is recognized and elevated. She addresses thousands of professionals each year, covering topics related to gender bias, self-advocacy, and how to be an ally in the workplace.
Last week, she addressed Germantown Friends School Middle and Upper students, outlining the ways in which they can use their power for good. “Creating a title wave of change starts with you. Regardless of the label society puts on you, your voices matter. Your generation has power.”
What can you do to stop gender biases? In her discussion, Rezvani gave the students three suggestions to confront gender inequality in their lives:
Expose yourself to different interests, ideas, and disciplines.
Learn to identify stereotypical and limiting messages.
Challenge gender stereotypes.
The alumna mentioned several studies, one of which reported that by the age of six, girls start believing that boys are inherently smarter and more talented than they are. Toys, posters, and clothes are marketed differently to boys and girls. “We instill biases at such a young age. We’ve even gender divided color: pink for girls and blue for boys.”
She also discussed the many stereotypes attributed to women and people who identify as non-binary, as well as societal pressures for men. “I hope you stand up to the lies that society tells you about what it takes to be a real man. You are man enough,” she said.
Following the assembly, students were invited to join Rezvani for lunch. Senior Maribel Carpenter ’20 was inspired by the presentation. “I discussed the times when I have felt systematic sexism come into play and how that has affected me academically and socially. Selena was extremely receptive and eager to help, offering to come back to GFS to talk with students further. She has a unique position, being able to understand the intricacies of GFS and how to initiate positive change.”
“It’s very empowering to hear another woman share her journey of leaving GFS and managing gender bias in college and beyond,” agreed Sammi Deutsch ’20. “I am so glad that the students were able to listen to her, and I hope this helps them start conversations about what it means to be an ally and to fight stereotypes.”
At the end of her speech, Rezvani left the students with this piece of advice: “My greatest hope for you is that you can help each other grow, regardless of race, background, gender, or any other label. Each generation gets one shot to make their mark. I hope you use yours to elevate the voices around you. You have the power to shape the future. What will you do today to be a change maker?”