I can be anything…

… the Reading Rainbow theme song told me so!

In all seriousness, why are many extracurricular activities deemed gender specific?

As a dance teacher, I came across a lot of parents who were closed off to the idea of their boy children taking classes in ballet and tap. Keep in mind, these children were ages 2-6 years old. In almost every case, it was the father who would laugh and/or outright declare it a “sissy” activity.

Yes, in 2009.

In my undergraduate child development classes, through the Department of Education, we learned of the importance of introducing a wide variety of activities to ALL children regardless of gender. Preschools should have gender neutral play areas for everything from construction to dress-up. Children should be encouraged to try many different activities without having to worry about being called a “sissy” or a “tomboy.”

So imagine my surprise when I received a controversial email today.

I was told that there would be a girl attending my new class (starting today) to try it out. There was a concern that she would be in a class full of boys.  Fair enough. Unfortunately the email went on to tell me not to worry, “she’s not a girly girl.”

Pause.

Rewind.

What does being a girly girl have to do with playing with Legos? I am, most definitely, a self-professed girly girl. I LOVE building with Legos and talking about science concepts. I also love playing with makeup and shopping, but it seems as if people think that a pairing of these interests is impossible.

I find that sad.

In 5 days worth of classes, with an average of 17 kids per class, I have 3 girls enrolled. Total. Granted, I don’t know that my parents would have thought to ask me if I wanted to be in an extracurricular engineering class when I was growing up either.

I want this to change.

I’ve also been attacked by a parent in one school’s parking lot with huge congratulations for teaching my class.  Apparently I was the first women instructor, that she had encountered, working for my company.  (In actuality, there are 3 of us, but I can see her viewpoint.) Engineering is, even in this day and age, seen as a male dominated field.  Scratch that, and make it science in general.

I’m here to prove that you can still be smart, professional and science oriented AS WELL AS cute, fun and girly. I hope that the girls in my class are impacted by my example and keep believing that they can be anything they want to be, regardless of their gender and what is seen as “normal” by society standards.

Long live chic geeks!

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~ by sillyauntjen on February 3, 2011.

One Response to “I can be anything…”

  1. Yay! I distinctly remember having dump trucks and plastic tool sets as a child. I sawed fake wood, hammered fake nails, etc. I remember wanting hot wheels and train sets so I could build cool tracks. I also had an obsession with My Little Ponies. A few years older and I got both an Easy Bake Oven, and an Archery set for my birthday. I now currently play massive amounts of shooting and fighting violent video games, and geek out over anything sci-fi. Yet I am learning to sew and dabbling in Pinup modeling (50’s style pinups are just about as girly a girl can be!). I think this has led me to become a very well-rounded individual, and I’m so glad my mother never steered me in any particular direction. If I wanted a tool set and to wear flannel shirts, she allowed it. She equally supported my princess birthday cakes. Enough with gender roles, they’re just downright silly.

    I thought you might find this interesting, if you haven’t already read it: http://nerdyapplebottom.com/2010/11/02/my-son-is-gay/

    Now, today my happy thing is being well-rested on a Thursday! This never happened back when I had my demon job =P

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