We all know that women are underrepresented in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and great efforts are being made to encourage girls to participate. The challenge is even greater when their well-meaning school doesn’t also take a critical eye to the issue of gender and unwittingly undermines said efforts.
The other day my 10 year old daughter shared with me that she had noticed that the Year 6 Student Leaders and student work group selected by teachers to do office work were all female…
… and that the Student Leaders and student work group selected by teachers for the Tech group were all boys.
I was at once proud of my daughter for noticing and for raising it, and angry at the school for blindly perpetuating and reinforcing future-limiting gender stereotypes about men’s and women’s work.
This is an example of the small things that build up and socialise our children about ‘gender appropriate’ behaviour which results in narrowing what our daughters believe is possible for them to do as adults and how they should behave.
I included my daughter in the drafting and sending of an email to the principal who responded and reported rectifying the situation (equal gender representation in each group) immediately. My daughter felt shy to write send the email herself (she is after all a 10 year old writing to the school principal) but I hope through my role modelling that her confidence in her own voice and speaking up will grow.
Here are four easy and fun ways to provide different role models for your girls, especially if you aren’t a techy yourself.
Tech Girls Movement www.techgirlsmovement.org
This Australian based organisation works to provide girls access to tech and programs to build skills and confidence and provide real life female role models as mentors and superheroes. They run hands on Tech Girl Superhero workshops (including in New Zealand) on coding, robotics, droids entrepreneurship and more.
She Sharp’s mission is to bridge the gender gap in the technology sector and inspire young girls to pursue careers in tech by connecting them with female role models, engaging them in practical workshops and challenging misconceptions about the industry.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls www.rebelgirls.co
The stories in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 inspire girls to dream bigger, aim higher and fight harder. These books are a must with beautiful imagery and short biographical stories which are devoured by girls.
Rebel Girls the podcast
The podcast offers you the rebel girls stories read by a variety of fabulous and inspiring hosts. Check out the episode two on Margaret Hamilton.
Find the podcast on your podcast provider or the website
Sending an email was a small thing for me to do but small things count. My daughter saw me listen to her and take action.
What small things have you noticed that may accumulate and build into life-limiting stories?
How might your children’s’ primary school unconsciously be reinforcing unhelpful gender stereotypes?
What small thing can you do about it? I would love to hear about it.