Thursday, February 4, 2016

Role Models

Helen has been a feminist since she could speak. Maybe she's just doing what her mama does, but I think it's more than that. For example, as early as age 3, she was using the word "she" as her gender neutral pronoun. She strikes me as the kind of gal who will do what she wants as she gets old - because she knows deep in her heart that it's the right thing to do. She might not be lost along the way, but others will.

I worry about the place she and her friends will decide to carve out. Her disappointment in the world is growing - and it's breaking my heart. It makes no sense to her, for example, that in a book written for children about scientists - all but a handful are men. She scours the pages virtually ignoring some amazing men, trying to figure out what place women hold. Curie, Lovelace, Hopper, McClintock, Carson, Goodall. I can see it across the room. She's looking for her place. WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? And Mom - did you see that Jane Goodall is still alive? She's one of US.

And as easy as it is for me to explain that we don't have a lot of early women scientists because people (mostly men) thought it was inappropriate or unnecessary to educate women, it still hurts. Mostly because I know the research. We like to hire people that look like us. And there is a legacy debt owed to women who were routinely excluded from many aspects of life. But there's nobody to pay up.

I see small waves of change. I see more women making their way in science and math. But I would be remiss if I didn't also see that women face unique challenges in traditionally male fields, and it really stinks to look at your daughter and know that someday, someone will dog her for being "too emotional", or "bossy", or "calculating", or any of those other negative words I see reserved routinely to be used in a negative manner when it comes to women, even though she's just trying to carve out her piece of the world.

And that's a big part of the reason that I still stand with Hillary. Because no matter how crappy Congress is the next four or eight years, and how little they end up accomplishing - they would never be able to take away that a woman was in the White House leading the US. And if that's all I can get out of the next four or eight years - I'll take it.

Because my daughter deserves better than what she's inheriting.


No comments:

Post a Comment