Posted by: christinamartin11 | January 17, 2014

It Starts With Us

In one of my Psychology courses we were discussing the difference between memory and recollection. My professor asked us to recall what our first grade teacher looked like. Our professor then told us to think about what “she” looked like. My professor then stated “your teacher might have been a male but your teacher was more likely a female so try to recall what she looked like”. This comment raised the question, what if a male was in our class that wanted to pursue a career in elementary education? He would have been taken aback by that statement. On the other hand, it gives the message that it is typical and common for women to be elementary school teachers and that is what is accepted. Last class in Women and Leadership we briefly discussed this idea of degenderizing leadership. As leaders we should disassociate gender from leadership traits and characteristics.That process starts however with our every day decisions . Every day we create comments like the one my professor stated in class boxing women into specific roles and excluding men out of others. Another example is with the cleaning supply commercials. Every commercial involving Lysol, Cascade cleaner and more are all commercials with women. It is the woman who is cleaning the dishes, mopping the floors and in the home. The media has a profound impact on the way women are perceived in our society. Although, the media is not the only thing to be blamed for this kind of gender boxing; we as people must take responsibility for this issue. When someone says that a girl shouldn’t play football, or that a woman shouldn’t be so stern with her colleagues, or a woman should not go into the engineering field, it limits both women and men. It prohibits women from pursuing the field of their choice. In addition, if a man did not want to be an engineer, or a doctor or a firefighter but instead a school teacher or a nurse, that social disapproval could hinder men from pursuing their careers of choice as well. In conclusion, this idea of degendering in leadership is one that should be looked at more carefully. Not just by CEOs, and other enterprises but by every day people. It starts with us!

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Responses

  1. I completely agree with this! Degendering our social norms DOES begin with us. While many people do associate elementary school teachers, nurses, and housekeepers as women, men are just as adequate at these jobs. In the first grade, I had the only male teacher in the entire school. Even as a small child, I remember thinking “why is this man my teacher? Why don’t I have a pretty woman as my teacher?” I thought it was so strange to have a male teacher, because even on television and movies women were always the teachers. However, I remember to this day that he was my favorite teacher throughout my entire school career. Just because he was a man did not hinder his ability to teach, nor my ability to learn. He was a very nurturing, humble, and compassionate man who wanted to spend his life teaching – and that is exactly what he did. I think that gender stereotypes only hold people back from achieving their full potential. So what if a man wants to be a stay-at-home dad, or a teacher, or a nurse? His genetic makeup that makes him a man should not dictate ANYTHING in his life at all, and this goes for women as well. WE are the ones who need to make changes, and instill these differences in future generations, so that hopefully one day they will not have to experience the same gender discrimination that we have grown up with.

  2. I love this post! While my first grade teacher was a woman, my third grade teacher was a man and he was the coolest; definitely one of my favorite teachers through elementary school. He was a compassionate man that both my brother and I had and I still remember what a great teacher he was. I think it is amazing to have both women and men teachers because you get different experiences. Yes, women and men are different, but they can both do every job, obviously some men aren’t meant for teaching, but neither are some women!
    About the cleaning and home commercials, I was watching a swiffer commercial and it has both a man and woman, but the man was just watching her clean…if that happens in my life…, well I won’t let that happen!
    Lastly, my oldest brother is in nursing right now and I know he is going to be incredible. It bothers me so much when people claim that is a “women’s job” because he would be a way better nurse than I would ever be! I want to be a CFO, and frankly, I think I would be a better CFO than he could ever be. Gender does not decide careers, personalities do.

  3. I really like this post!. It really struck me because your example was one of boxing men in and normally we focus on how women are boxed in. If we want women to break out of the stereotypes, then we also have to allow women to do the same. And this example was perfect because elementary school teachers have such a big impact on us. Childhood is when we are socialized and learn different norms. We are able to look at the work without stereotypes. Seeing a male teacher as a child could be hugely beneficial socializing children to move past gender bias.


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