Alice Paul Tapper: The voice of a new generation

photo via The New York Times

photo via The New York Times

You timidly raise your hand in class, answer softly and wait for the teacher to tell you you’re wrong. Better to just not raise your hand at all, right? This phenomenon occurs constantly in the lives of many students, but predominantly girls.


12-year-old Alice Paul Tapper noticed this occurrence at an early age. Once, on a fourth-grade field trip, she observed a curiosity.


According to her op-ed piece in The New York Times, Tapper “noticed that all the boys stood in the front and raised their hands while most of the girls politely stayed in the back and were quiet.”


In an attempt to confront this injustice, she had a discussion in the car with her mom on the way home.


“We talked about how it seemed unfair and how boys and girls should be equal,” Tapper said. “My mom talks to me a lot about women’s rights and how women are treated differently.”


In her explanation of the events of the day, Tapper expressed to her mom the reason she believed girls weren’t raising their hands: afraid their answers were going to be wrong, they didn’t want to be embarrassed. In addition, girls worried about the ramifications of taking their teacher’s attention away from their male peers.


Tapper believed this was unfair and was struck by the injustice of the situation. In an attempt to rectify it, she decided to appeal to her Girl Scout troop. Tapper suggested that they create a new badge, one which motivates girls to raise their hands and use their voices confidently.


“As a troop, we decided to go to the local council, Girl Scouts of Nation’s Capital, which represents more than 62,000 girls in the greater Washington, D.C. region, to present our idea,” Tapper said. “We decided to call it the ‘Raise Your Hand’ patch.”


In order to receive this patch, a scout must pledge to raise her hand in class and recruit three other girls to do the same. This inspires young women to step up, raise their hands and become leaders.


Tapper, named for famous suffragette Alice Paul, is also an advocate for women’s rights. She stands by her belief that women must fight in order to be equal, and is backing up her words with actions.