Today my husband and I volunteered at TEDxYouth@Birmingham teaching the basics of reporting to the students at the event.

reporting 101

TEDxYouth@Birmingham was one of more than 100 TEDxYouth events that took place today around the globe. At these events 7th through 12th graders gathered to watch live streams of TEDYouth2015.

A mock interview at our Reporting 101 booth
A mock interview at our Reporting 101 booth

I am addicted to TED. As a high school English teacher I’m constantly looking for ways to use TED in the classroom whether it’s to teach public speaking or persuasive writing skills or to spark conversations about representations of women in the media.

I also frequently watch TED Talks just for for personal inspiration and sometimes just for fun. I even have the TED app on my phone and if I’m in a long line at the pharmacy or DMV, I might pass the time by watching a TED Talk.

This is probably no surprise if you know me IRL, but most of my favorite TED Talks are by women speaking on women’s issues. Here are five TED Talks I believe every woman should watch.

Confessions of a bad feminist — Roxanne Gay

From TED.com: When writer Roxane Gay dubbed herself a “bad feminist,” she was making a joke, acknowledging that she couldn’t possibly live up to the demands for perfection of the feminist movement. But she’s realized that the joke rang hollow. In a thoughtful and provocative talk, she asks us to embrace all flavors of feminism — and make the small choices that, en masse, might lead to actual change.

Gay’s talk has quickly become my favorite TED Talk of all time. If you’re a woman struggling to reconcile your feminist ideals with your love for ratchet hip hop (raises hand) this TED talk will make you laugh, cry, and shout AMEN! But this talk is about so much more. When I showed it to the girls of my Women and Media class, one student asked, “Can we watch that again? And again?” Another said, “This talk let me know I’m not alone.” And I knew exactly what she meant because that’s precisely how the talk makes me feel, too. This talk reminds you that being a feminist isn’t about following a set of rules, but about trying to make a difference and being intentional and thoughtful in all we do.

I got 99 problems… palsy is just one – Maysoon Zayid

From TED.com: “I have cerebral palsy. I shake all the time,” Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of this exhilarating, hilarious talk. (Really, it’s hilarious.) “I’m like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali.” With grace and wit, the Arab-American comedian takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her adventures as an actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled.

I’m a firm believer in intersectionality and intersectional feminism –the view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity; the belief that cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society such as race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity. This TED Talk, however, made me realize that while I’m constantly thinking about the importance of also considering race, class, and ethnicity when discussing gender, I rarely consider ability. This TED Talk urged me to really practice what I preach when it comes to intersectionality.

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Thanks to Beyonce you’re probably already familiar with at least a portion this talk. But Adichie’s speech was one of my favorites long before Beyonce sampled it in her hit song “Flawless.” Adichie’s explanation of what feminism is and why it’s needed is, well, flawless!

Why we have too few women leaders – Sheryl Sandberg

From TED.com: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.

If you’re a fan of Sandberg’s Lean In, you’ll certainly be a fan of this talk, too.

Gloria Steinem and Salamishah Tillet

In an interview from the stage of a TEDxWomen event, feminist icon Gloria Steinem talks with writer and feminist activist Salamishah Tillet about aging, writing, stereotypes and, of course, the feminist movement. This TED Talk will always be special to me because Steinem’s comments on aging helped me understand that sometimes growing up means looking back. Sometimes to become the woman we’re supposed to be, we have to remember the girl we used to be.

What are you favorite TED Talks?