I recently watched a TEDx Talk featuring John Marchotte, founder of Heroic Girls, an organization dedicated to empowering girls by advocating for strong role models in alternative media – particularly comics.
Let me summarize. Marchotte’s point was simple. Girls cannot be what they don’t see. In other words, if you want your girl to grow up a rocket scientist, a surgeon or a pilot (or any number of other occupations, clearly), you have to expose her to women in those occupations (key word being “women”). Our girls have to be able to see themselves doing it. That old saying, “You’ve got to see it to believe it”….that’s what I’m talking about here.
Marchotte pointed to a recent study done by Scientific Journal/Sex Rolls in March of 2014. In it, young girls were given three dolls to play with:
1. A Barbie dressed in high fashion
2. A Barbie dressed as a doctor
3. A Mrs. Potato Head dressed as a doctor
After playing with the dolls for two minutes, the girls were given a survey. In it they were asked, “What do you think you can be when you grow up?” After playing with the Barbies (either one), girls responded with these three occupations:
2. Flight attendant
After playing with Mrs. Potato Head, that’s when things got a little more interesting. Girls added (in addition to the three above):
3. Police Officer
So, what does this mean? It means we, as parents, need to expose our girls to more professional women doing more things. Woman doing different jobs than those typically associated with woman. Just. Plain. More.
Ok. But how exactly do we do that? We begin by starting a conversation with our girls. We talk with them about what they want to be. We talk with them about what they see themselves capable of doing. We introduce them to women we know who are doing those things. And if we don’t know the women ourselves, we find them. We broaden our girls’ scope of what’s possible. Because, really, anything is possible. They just need to know that.
It’s that simple. Because if we don’t, we are limiting our daughters. And, who wants to do that?