While previous years' curriculum featured units that explicitly looked into issues of gender, gender equality, patriarchy and feminist thought, these were noticeably lacking from the newest draft. In fact, of the roster of "16 political thinkers" listed for students to know, only one woman -- Mary Wollstonecraft -- made the cut.
In response, student June Eric-Udorie started a petition to fight this change -- and to correct this pretty pathetic oversight -- by adding more influential female thinkers to the curriculum.
"When women are underrepresented in society, the government should be working to address this problem," Eric-Udorie writes in the petition. "As a young woman and student, it is imperative that girls and boys get the full picture at school, or we are doing them a disservice. It has been said that you cannot be what you cannot see. Female role models are important."
Eric-Udorie told MTV News that she is excited to see the petition grow -- she left for school one morning with just 2,000 signatures and came home to over 30,000 (with the numbers still rising.) But what troubles her the most, she said, is that she's run into so many people who cannot name a single female thinker that could be added to the curriculum's roster -- not even one.
"I think the thing that’s been the most shocking is people saying there are no examples, that there are none that you can us. You teach students that women aren’t visible and that they haven’t made any contributions...There’s just so, so many that they could pick from," Eric-Udori said. "I guess that’s my biggest thing: I’m really concerned how we’ve completely removed women from the syllabus. Like you’ve not only removed feminism but you’ve completely wiped any contribution that any women had made to political movements and ideologies.”
In an essay for The Guardian, Eric-Udorie writes that, as an A-level politics student, she already notices that women are treated with a "lack of importance" -- mostly as footnotes to their male contemporaries.
That's why, she writes, she wants to have a face-to-face meeting with Nicky Morgan, the U.K.'s Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, to directly address the concerns that she and many of her classmates have about their educations. She's also encouraging people to tweet their concerns at Morgan to "put more public pressure" on this issue. She said she's also hoping to help promote more and more diversity in the curriculum, drawing attention to other often-ignored thinkers and groups (particularly, calling for more women of color to be represented.)
“Legislators really do need to listen to young people, not only because we’re the next generation, but because our views matter in a sense that we also live in these countries," Eric-Udori said. "If you’re going to be making changes to our education system there’s no reason why we can’t object to certain things or question certain rulings that you’re making — especially if it’s young people who are learning about this.”
"In terms of feminist campaigns, this may not be the biggest issue. But these small things matter," she continues. "Because, when you erase women from the curriculum, you teach boys and girls that women’s work is not important, that the contributions they made are not as valuable. If you start this drip-feeding early then you invite the sexism, inequality and misogyny that women are still experiencing today."