I never took much mind to “women’s firsts” (first U.S. female astronaut, first female-owned Indy 500 team, those sorts of things), even though they all happened in my lifetime. I never took much mind, that is, until I became the parent of a girl. Then, as newscasters announced, “Katie Couric is the first woman to anchor the national evening news”, I started to take notice.
It never occurred to me that my daughter would face gender barriers or glass ceilings. Wasn’t that all taken care of in the ’60s and ’70s? Why no, no it wasn’t. Now that it’s my daughter we’re talking about, I am suddenly more interested in making sure that women are educated the same, treated the same, and paid the same as their male counterparts.
I also have a desire to support women in a way that wasn’t as concrete as before. When we moved to this area, we signed up for a doctor, dentist and optometrist (thank you, husband’s job that provides killer insurance). Our doctor is male, but his physician’s assistant is female, as are the rest of the members of his staff. Our dentist is female, and she works alongside a male dentist, and hygienists of both genders. Our optometrist is female, and she employs both male and female opticians in her office. We know female business owners, female educators, and female editors. Knowing women in a variety of fields was never something I strived for, until I had a daughter. Now I’m conscious of mentioning their careers to my daughter, so she can see that women can do anything.
I am hopeful that as she comes of age, women will advance in government on a federal level, past the position of Secretary of State and straight into the Oval Office. That women in Congress will come even more common. That there are more than two or three women in professional racing (we live in Indy, so she is a HUGE fan of Danica Patrick; I wish she had more women to choose from). That she really does grow up choosing a career based on her interests, not on gender stereotypes.
Ok — women — what were the messages you received growing up? What are the messages you’re sending to your daughters, nieces, and young friends?