When I started my career, back in the mid-1980s, I was hired to be an editorial assistant at a certain top tier magazine in New York City. As part of the job interview I took a typing test. I was also informed that the guy I’d be working for had a reputation for groping his assistants. “Can you handle that?” I was asked. Not “If it happens report him.” Not “He is being brought up on charges.” Not even “We’re trying to deal with it and we’re sorry.” Just “Can you handle that?” WWAMD? I thought (That’s “What Would Ann Marie Do?“) Of course, I said yes. I worked for the guy for over a year and “handled it” by keeping six feet away from him at all times–believe me, I earned my $13,500 salary. (Note: I also worked for two amazing, generous, encouraging editors and mentors to whom I [...]
Archive for the Equal Parenting Category
A recent Christian Science Monitorarticle confirmed that there are still gaps between girls and boys in STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) subjects despite larger gains in education for women over the past 40 years. Among the high school graduating class of 2011, for instance, 80% of computer-science course Advanced Placement test-takers, 77% of those taking the physics exam for electricity and magnetism and 74 percent of mechanics exams. Also, 59 percent of those taking Calculus BC, the more advanced of two AP courses offered in the subject, were male. The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows continued achievement gaps between boys and girls in STEM fields as well, especially science. Boys outperform girls at the 4th, 8th and 12th grade level with the biggest gap being in 12th grade. No bueno, right? I was thinking about this the other day, when I attended the orientation for my daughter’s drama camp, [...]
I can’t get this new study on preschoolers and outdoor play out of my mind. Initially brought to my attention by KJ Dell’Antonia at Motherlode, it found that roughly half of parents of preschoolers did not take their children outside to play regularly–suggesting that those children are not getting the level of physical activity they need (see KJ’s post for important caveats). But here’s the kicker: parents were 16% more likely to take preschool boys outside than preschool girls. Why? Researchers theorized it was ingrained (and probably unconscious) stereotypes about how much exercise girls need. This sets the stage for sedentariness in adolescence and beyond. Which, I’m guessing, plays into distorted body image and unhealthy dieting. Great for the 60.9 billion dollar diet industry (with its 95% failure rate); not so great for girls. So you know I’m going to loop this back to the Princess Industrial Complex, right? Girls don’t seem to [...]
In today’s Motherlode Emily Rosenbaum struggles with what seems to her to be a contradiction in the how she parents her daughter vs. her sons. The revelation was triggered when her 3-year-old girl returned from the Home Depot (with Emily’s husband) brandishing a Disney Princess light switch plate (in case you’re keeping track: that would be DP item #25,978 of the 26,000+ I mention in CAMD). It probably looked something like this: Emily was furious, but her husband said: You know, you’re reacting just the way I react when Zach wants to buy pink clothes. You should allow her to express herself as much as you let the boys do it. That pulled Emily up short. Turns out their son, Zach, “is the only boy in his second-grade class to regularly rock a pink hoodie and pink socks. Benjamin spent his toddler years dressed as Tinkerbell, and we potty trained him [...]
Yikes! I just realized I accidentally posted this twice. For the real version please see above. I will also copy the comments from this post into that one. Sorry!
A reader named Leslie, whose daughter, Callie’s eloquent letter about Lego’s new “Friends” line was summarily dismissed by that company, just sent me this photo: Callie and her cousins made this Lego “birthday cake” for their grandmother, who is unable to eat the real deal. Here’s the family of girls and women preparing to blow out the candles. I bet they wished for creative, open-ended toys that didn’t stereotype and hyper-segment children. And guess what, Lego? THIS IS WHAT BEAUTIFUL LOOKS LIKE!!!!!!
In the wake of my recent NY Times editorial on nature, nurture, gender and the new Lego Friends line, a reader sent me this photo of the gifts she and her husband gave their 5-year-old son this Christmas: her husband’s old Lincoln Log and Tinker Toy sets. He was born in 1972. He (the husband/father) was born in 1972. The Tinkertoys package explicitly states, “For boys and girls.” And note the girl happily building a ranch on the cover of the Lincoln Logs! Their son’s response: “I didn’t know these were for girls, too!” Point made (my point, that is). FYI, you can still get gender-neutral Lincoln Logs (with pictures of cabins on the box, no kids shown). But there is also this set: Again, necessary? Why? How does it affect the potential for boys and girls to interact? Play together? Is it relegating girls to pink and pretty [...]
Great piece in Friday’s NY Times on elementary school kids who want to wear clothing considered to be for the other sex and how parents handle it. As it happened, the Spanish Dance performance for the 2nd & 3rd years at Daisy’s school was that morning. Here are the costumes the kids wore: Seems pretty obvious that the one on the left is the boys’ while the one on the right is the girls’. But it wasn’t presented that way. The kids were told there were two costume choices and they could wear whichever they liked. A few of the girls picked the khakis. One of the boys chose the skirt and top. Of course, no one said much about the girls choosing khakis. But here is what the one of the teachers wrote me about a boy choosing to wear “girls” clothing: We work hard to bust up stereotypes [...]
I know. Your daughter was just born loving pink. Your son made “vrooming” noises as he exited the womb. In CAMD I have a chapter on nature versus nurture, but I also highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend these three books. They are essential for anyone who has essentialist (i.e., everything is down to gender, boys will be boys, girls will be girls) tendencies. All three are super-readable and scrupulously researched and disentangle nature (which is real) from nurture (which is huge) revealing how our assumptions about kids and gender may be undermining our sons’ and daughters’ potential. Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps and What We Can Do About It by Lise Eliot Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine The Truth About Girls And Boys:Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett This [...]
Okay, so everyone is asking me what I think about Storm, the latest child whose parents have announced they are raising (oh God I need a pronoun–him? Her? It?–this is so hard without a pronoun) gender free. I have so many thoughts on the subject, I’m just going to put them all down in a jumble. I get that Storm’s parents are disgusted by the current hyper-gender segmentation of childhood. They’re right about that. A hundred years ago babies were not so maniacally and relentlessly gender-coded. In an earlier blog post I point out that all babies and toddlers used to be dressed in white, frilly gowns with long flowing hair, ideally in curls. Check out the picture of a cutie pie FDR in his dress and patent leather shoes. And that sweet little dress on Ronald Reagan. Apparently, boys in dresses grow up to be President (though not girls [...]