Apparently some recent study showed this snippit of information in the title above. The reason? They state that when high schools teach things like masonary, woodworking, etc. parents believe this is ok for boys, not girls. The story depicted the experience of a young woman who decided after taking her masonary class that that was her passion. Her teacher, a mason by profession, and highly successful entrepreneur, inspired and encouraged her. She brought home a brick she had created from scratch with her two bare hands, so proud, and full of enthusiasm, and was told that girls don't do that.
It is not clear to me what types of careers we are expecting our girls to be prepared for : gardening? cooking? sewing? Perhaps we need to ask this question and go from there? I truly believe you can be excellent at anything and we need all skills in our society to both make it function optimally and make it beautiful through diversity. All skills are worthy of teaching, but it is difficult to teach every single thing in four years while also mastering reading, writing, and mathematics, not to mention actually learning to think critically. Schools need to make choices about what will always be in demand : building shelter sounds reasonable.
It is so hard to believe that we are still teaching our young women and men gender stereotypes. I guess it shouldn't be, since my own personal experience with this has been so voluminous that I no longer even get angry about it. Now, when I get called a nurse, and the male medical technician standing next to me gets called a doctor (yes, I do wear a white coat, and a stethoscope, and a name tag, and I introduce myself as Dr Reed...) I simply say, "No sir/maam, I am the doctor" and continue. What is hilarious is that they continue to call me a nurse during the interaction as if they simply can not believe I could be a physician. Or when it comes up I work in the ER when talking to someone at my kids' school, etc., "Oh! I didn't know you were a nurse!" It transcends gender, age, race, socioeconomic status. Everybody does it. (I understand male nurses struggle with the reverse - Oh, you are not the doctor?)
I know I look and sound young, and have considered that this is the issue. I count my blessings for this "problem," but it must occur to most humans that all doctors, teachers, engineers, cashiers, er - humans, are young at some point, right? So, I don't think that's it. It goes beyond youthful appearance. I really thing it's because I'm a girl!!
For my own family, my eldest daughter wants to be a zookeeper - specifically an "artistic zookeeper" as she would like to merge art and zoology. Ah, to be seven again! For the summer, she is attending a two week overnight camp in Pennsylvania where she is going to get up at 7:30 to milk cows, feed the animals, and clean up after them with twenty nine other girls. She will learn the inner workings of a farm and in the meantime, continue to develop independence and self confidence so she knows she can do anything her heart desires.
So, how do we get unstuck in this way of thinking so we can move forward? I suppose like with all the other issues that have struck me : talk about it, make sure we all know options exist, work out our own issues about how we think about whatever we are thinking about. Because, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, our unintentional behaviors are coloring the thoughts of others and possibly those others need us all to believe they can do whatever they choose.