Monday, May 21, 2007

A Girl in a Boy's World

I've read all the blogger reviews of that terribly dangerous book being marketed to Boys instead of Girls.

I keep asking myself, why do I care? It's a silly thing, isn't it? It's probably a good book. And surely we can all agree that boys are different from girls, no?

But I do care.

I care because my daughter has started to notice that every time they pull her out for advanced math testing, she is the only girl. They spoke to us about putting her in a special class next year with some academic peers in math...all of whom are boys.

I care because I cannot forget the day when I went to meet with my Economics professor back in college. Evidently, I knew that someday I'd be a blogger who used only initials because I signed all my tests "K. Harrald" (with an unusual last name , one doesn't need to use the full first name and I was lazy.)

The first thing he said to me was "YOU'RE K. Harrald?" He had an incredulous look on his face. Then he followed it with, "But you're a girl!" Evidently he'd never had a girl who was good at economics before.

That was 20 years ago. I still haven't forgotten it.

I care because I work at a technology consulting firm that is 90% male. I care because husband D. is an engineer who has worked in departments that are 100% male.

I fully realize that my daughter is going into a world that even today, even in 2007, still thinks males are better at math and science than females are.

But I want to climb on top of the tallest building in Madison and yell, "No, it's wrong! Males aren't better! Girls are good at math and science too! Look at my sister! Look at my mother! Look at my daughter!"

But there really aren't any tall buildings here in Madison, so I won't do that.

I'll just play "Anything you can do, I can do better" over and over again and refuse to buy any book that assumes that my brilliant daughter isn't suited for "boy" things.

Tonight, she asked if I would buy her the Playmobil hospital. It's a bit out of our budget and more than her allowance, so alas, I said no. We agreed that it might make a good birthday present. At bedtime, I asked why she wanted it so badly and she said that she wanted to start playing with things that she might want to be when she grows up.

What if Playmobil put their hospitals and trucks in a section marked "Boys?" What if they put their princesses and babies in a catalog marked "Girls?"

(And, should I worry if the one Playmobil item that little brother D. wants is the beach patrol boat? Is it possible to have one child dreaming of a career in the ER and the other dreaming of weekends as a life guard?)


Phantom Scribbler said...

Even Playmobil has a lot of pink-or-blue packaging these days. Sigh.

It is adorable that your daughter wants to play with things that she might want to be when she grows up! But depressing to hear that already she's picking up on signals that it's not par for the course for girls to be good at math or science.

Anonymous said...

Do you have the book/CD for "Free to Be You and Me"? It meant so much to me at K's age (maybe a little older). A had a Mother's Day project this year that included the question, "what was the best advice your mother ever gave you?" He had written, "just be yourself". I almost burst with pride :)

K said...

Oh, E - A is so cute!!! What a great thing to say!

OK these initials are going to drive us all crazy, I can tell.

By the way, I'm K. the daughter is D. I think you are confusing me with the A from our group who has a daughter K. hee hee...

Anonymous said...

LOL, I got my initials crossed :) Yes, I really do know your names, I promise.