How to Behave?

What was a difficult obstacle you encountered and how did you overcome it? / Topic of Your Choice

This summer, while attending a camp designed for the best high school policy debate students in the country, I noticed that only one-fourth of the participants in this camp were female. In the three and a half years I have committed to policy debate, I have never thought the activity was hostile towards female debaters. Yet female participation was clearly lacking, a fact that both puzzled and bothered me.

Realizing this predicament, I began to take notice of the expectations many in the debate community had for female debaters. Some boys seemed downright surprised that I could be just as, if not more, assertive and confident in cross-examination as them. Others expected an easier win once they discovered they would be debating an all-girl team. Of course, in most cases, this expectation was duly shattered if they happened to be debating me, as they realized I would not conform to their expectations. Finding success at the top levels of policy debate has been one of my most satisfying experiences—not just because of the wins, the education, or the skills gained, but also because of the inaccurate stereotypes I’ve helped correct.

The issue of female participation in debate was a difficult dilemma. How should I act now that I...

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