Who are our girls’ role models?
March 16, 2012
A week or so ago, on the show The Project, they were discussing Pink Ghettos – places in the workforce where there are predominantly women (like Public Relations).
Firstly it addressed how it’s not good to have either sex feature predominantly in the workforce and secondly, it was looking at how it’s necessary for women to have good Maternity Leave – as it can mean the death of their careers, having to leave their job to care for the children. The irony was that the discussion was between a male politician (Joe Hockey) and Natasha Stott Despoja (former leader of the Democrats; and an awesome woman) – where HE was actually arguing that he knew what women want, more than Natasha – a woman – the former leader of a party – with children. I thought that was incredible. However, it generally seems that way; noone seems to bat an eyelid at the fact that a man is making the calls on what’s good for us gals.
The part that really had me gobsmacked, was that when Natasha was asked whether she had ever heard of Pink Ghettos, she said, “No, but Canberra is a pretty much a Blue Ghetto, with the amount of men that are there.” – to which Joe Hockey replied, “I wish it were all blue.”
Yep. I bet you do, Joe.
Around the world, the average of women in parliament in 2007 was 18.3%* (couldn’t find anything more current – would love to know the figures today) and although the stats were a little better in Australia, it got me wondering WHY women are simply not up there at the top; in equal numbers to men – after all there’s a teeny bit more women than men worldwide.
Could it be that our girls have few aspirations to go for leadership roles (in many different areas) because it’s simply not modelled for them?
So, I thought I’d ask girls at my school, of different ages, who they look up to; who is an inspirational role model in their lives.
The first reaction was always the same – a long silence, looking up; trying to conjure up the faces of all the women out there who have impacted their lives.
One of the questions I was asked was, “Does it have to be a woman?” I gave her a cheeky ‘did-you-just-ask-me-that?’ look – as I didn’t know whether she was pulling my leg. She wasn’t. At the same time, what a telling question it was.
Even after I nudged them along with possibilities like singers, writers or personalities on TV…. a big portion of them said their mothers.
How wonderful. Or is it?
OK – I’m putting this out there.
I am a mother. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mum, since I can remember. I was quite young when I kept asking my mum questions about marriage and whether she minded if I got married a little bit earlier than she did. She was 24. I was Suzie Home Maker. My best friend and I used to actually talk about the days where we’d be in our own home, married and ironing our husband’s shirts. PALEEASE!
Now, although I went to uni and ticked all the boxes – my ultimate goal was to get married and have kids. And I did.
I was blessed with two, very strong, daughters who drive me insane – you know what I mean – but who I believe I was destined to have. *Big smile* As much as I know they will ultimately respect me as a mother – is it all I want for them?
Question #24: Is motherhood the only way we can model strong women?
I asked the students if they felt there were any unfair things their mothers might go through, because they’re women and there was a strong chorus of, “YEAH!”
Through our following discussion, it seemed clear that, besides their mothers, there really wasn’t much out there to inspire girls – and if there are great women out there (which of course there are) – why aren’t we seeing them as much as the plastic, doll-like versions of our gender?
Why is there such a dim spotlight being shone on intelligent and inspirational women?
All is not lost, though. One of my older students said Gail Simone was an inspiration to her. I don’t know about you, but I said, “Who?” When I looked her up, I saw that she is great – a graphic novel writer. Amongst other suggestions, a popular choice was the singer Adele. When I asked how Adele inspired them, they just LOVED that she truly is all about the music – not how she looks.
A gorgeous, gifted woman – what.a.voice!
We HAVE to get more of a cross section of strong, intelligent women to be visible – BUT we need women in the top jobs to make this happen! Can I hear a Lleyton Hewitt, “C’mooooon”! *Big smile*
PS I wanted to say that I changed the question in my previous post because it asked about mens’ actions – which we can’t answer – so I changed the wording. Secondly, the poem I put in the same post, was written in 1969.