“Miss, did you mean to say ‘she’? Your doctor was a woman?”
The other day, I was talking with a group of students and explained to them that I had made a visit to the doctor. One of them (a boy) was confused when I said that my doctor was a female. There were two Grade 3 girls standing with us, and as I told the boy that your gender has nothing to do with the type of career you have, that “a woman can be a doctor just in the same way that a man can,” the girls chimed in, “and a man can be a nurse too!” The boy, oblivious to any embarrassment I felt for him, eagerly replied, “oh yes! I’ve met a man nurse already!”
Gender stereotypes disproportionately impact girls and women, particularly when it comes to career choice. Thankfully, both here and in the US, this is changing, but we still have a long way to go.
This week is celebrated as Engineers Week, and February 25th is extra-celebrated as Girls Day! Girl Day is a special day devoted to showing girls the creative side of engineering and inspiring them to pursue engineering and STEM career paths.
Currently in the US, only 12% of professional engineers are women. Teza Technologies, a US-based company, is working to change this. Check out their impressive (and shocking) infographic below:
School-aged girls are excelling in math and science, but more than half say they don’t consider engineering or STEM professions for their future careers. Teza Technologies CEO, Misha Malyshev, works with nonprofits to reverse this trend and organize programs that teach students, especially young women, hands-on applications of science, technology, engineering and math. Girl Day takes place on February 25th and is an opportunity to teach girls about the difference they can make in the world as an engineer or STEM professional.
The status quo won’t ever change if we do nothing. I’m taking advantage of my interactions with young girls and boys at school to promote gender equality through conversations like the one I had with those Grade 3 children about doctors and nurses. No one should ever be told that they can’t pursue a profession (or even school subject) that interests them because of their gender.