Posted by: jenntrice | February 20, 2014

Career Day

This class has opened my eyes to many events that have happened throughout my life. I have found myself thinking back and looking at things through a different lens. Throughout this semester, we have talked a lot about what has been done to stifle women as leaders, with gendering and societal norms. We have also touched on the topic of children and when the gender roles start to form. We have mentioned how parents should influence their child to pursue their career goals, no matter their gender. We, as a society, should also encourage children to be themselves, and not what society tells them to be.

I am very fortunate to have parents who did just that. My sister, Mary Beth, and I have always been encouraged to follow our career aspirations, no matter what they have been. One perfect example of this would be elementary school career day. Every year our elementary school held a day where the students would dress up in the outfit of what they wanted to be when they grew up. I vividly remember being in the kitchen with my parents the morning of career day. My sister came downstairs, wearing normal clothes and carrying a baby doll. When we asked what she was, she said “I am a stay at home mom!” My parents asked why she picked this for career day, she said “Because I am a girl and I want to be a mommy.” My parents sat her down and told her she could work anywhere she wanted and be a mommy at the same time. They told her that being a girl should not hold her back from doing what she wanted.

After this talk, Mary Beth went back upstairs and to change. When she came back, she was still carrying her baby doll, but was wearing a lab coat. When she was asked, once again, what she was, she said “I am a doctor and a mommy too.”

I didn’t realize what my parents were doing back then, but I do now. They did their best to not let gender stereotyping hinder us as children. More parents in today’s world should encourage their children in the same way and maybe, just maybe, our children will not feel tied down by society’s gender roles.

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Responses

  1. I love this post! I think it goes to show just how young children are when they develop their sense of gender norms. I also think this post highlights something else too: the crucial role that parents and family play in shaping children’s identity and gendered perceptions. We learn by seeing and imitation, so it is important that parents make sure to highlight these beliefs that both women and men can be anything they want to be in life. It makes me sad when I see people, including parents, that have such closed off mindsets. I think it’s great that your parents took the time to talk with your sister about this important issue and I’m glad it was able to make her see that women don’t have to confine themselves to just one role or the other.

  2. I think this is really awesome. I think it is important for parents to make sure their children, no matter what gender, are capable of doing anything they want in life. My mom used to put me in dresses and pink but she also let me wear clothes for boys just because I thought they were cool. My parents never forced me into a box of what society thought was appropriate for girls. I have never been a stereotypical girl, I voiced my opinion and I have a dominate personality and my parents made sure I embraced that. I agree that if we want to break the stereotypes and gender roles society has placed on us then we need to start breaking them with the younger generation so they can pass it on.

  3. Absolutely love this post. Your parents did such a great job at not allowing you both to believe the stereotypically gender roles that our society lives in. My parents always encouraged me to pursue any career that I wish, and I love hearing other stories about parents encouraging their children as well. I really hope that our generation of women, who I feel like are taking on more eclectic leadership positions and are less hindered by society’s gender roles, will encourage our children with their spouses to not be hindered by gender roles as well.

  4. That is so true! We talk often about the influence society has on children, but parents can make an even bigger impact! I grew up in a very southern, small town were bigotry, sexism, and racism still run rampant. I was lucky enough to have parents that taught me what they believed, yet still left the door open for me to form my own opinions. They have always supported me in the different choices I’ve made regarding my career. Thinking about it now, I wonder how much of the problems we have with gender are caused by society? Now, I think that the family would have that great influence over their child by either being overbearing with their opinions or not being there enough with support.

  5. This is adorable! How awesome of your parents to sit her down and encourage her to follow dreams. It’s fascinating how quickly children develop these gendered stereotypes. My parents always encouraged my brothers and I to do whatever we were passionate about. It really shows how much a parent can impact you and the way you think. If your parents had never sat her down, who knows what she would think as she grew up. But the fact that they took the time to show her all of her options is awesome. All growing up I always wanted some cool career, doctor, lawyer, businesswomen, and my parents encouraged me through all of it. I hope as we become parents we can lead our girls to do big things as well!

  6. Thanks for the post! It’s refreshing to hear about stories that are focused on the aspiration and qualities of the individual rather than their gender. It reinforces the labyrinth effect we’ve been learning about and how there are obstacles for each person, not just women or men. Your parents did an effective and wonderful job at presenting you and your sister with the mindset that is focused on success that you and your sister personalize on an individual level. With the class, we have learned how society works to gender and generalize women, men, and their careers based on their sex and gender. However, seeing how your parents taught you and your sister to focus on what makes you both happy on a personal level is important to realize how anything can be accomplished if an individual sets their mind to it!

  7. I think it’s really interesting that your parents sat your sister down and directly talked to her about this. I was never directly told that I had to grow up to be a housewife or secretary or teacher. I knew I would be though, because every other woman in my immediate and extended family is one of those things. It didn’t need to be said. That’s just the way it was and everyone knew it. I know that I can go into business or be a doctor or lawyer or whatever I want. But it’s possible that the reason I’ve never had a desire for any of those things comes from the lack of encouragement. I was never told not do those things, but I wasn’t told I could either. I think it’s great that your parents taught you from a young age that you don’t have any limitations.

  8. That’s so cool how you were able to apply this specific memory to class. I guess we don’t pick up on too much when we are younger till we’re older. I think that it’s impressive that your parents took the time out of the morning school rush to tell your sister this. I guess they saw that it was really important to let your sister know she could be anything she wanted and be a mother. My parents always stressed this whenever we talked about what I wanted to be when I grow up. I still have concerns about going into my career and being a mother too, but even now my mother says I can do both. She even goes as far to say she would help take care of children if I needed that because she wants me to have everything in life.

  9. Thanks for sharing this memory with us!! 🙂 I really like this story and the positive message behind your parents’ actions. It is great to see parents teaching their children such big concepts when they are at such young ages but, unfortunately, we do not hear of great stories like this as often as I wish we would. I like how your parents did not criticize your sister for wanting to be a mother as her future career when she grew up, but instead they broke the gender stereotypes and traditional view of women by encouraging her to someday have a paid career, yet supported her to take on the role of a mother in addition to a job. I think that getting these messages through to children at such young ages is absolutely crucial if our society ever wants to see a change in women’s traditional gender roles. If only there were more parents out there like yours, I think that it would make a huge difference!!!

  10. This is so precious! I love this story and I completely agree with you that parents should take the time to explain to their children that gender should not play a part on what they want to do with their lives. From previous classes we have had discussions on women in the media I do believe that a huge part of why children gravitate towards certain professions is because of the media. In commercials, movies and TV shows women are portrayed as either a stay at home mom, the sex item, the sidekick to a male dominate, or like Scandal, the very successful woman without a personal life or family. I believe that even if parents sometimes explain to children that they can be whatever they want to be children still have to face the struggle of not letting the media influence their decisions on their lives and their dreams. This is something we should keep in mind as we get older and will begin to raise our children. We need to continue to inform them that they do have a choice, and to not let gender roles of the media influence their decisions on wanting to achieve their dreams.


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