In my profession as an Immigration Paralegal, I assist corporations obtaining business visas and eventually green cards for foreign nationals from multiple countries abroad. Working in Detroit, we see a lot of people coming in for S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. I promise I do not plan to get political in the post – I am only trying to prove how gender non-specific I started my children, especially my daughter.
Early on, I would state that my children would definitely go into a S.T.E.M. field. People would think that I was joking and ask “what if they want to be an artist?” I would answer, “well, that’s a great hobby.”
I’ve lightened up a little but in reality, I’ve always pushed the S.T.E.M. toys, especially with my daughter. My husband is an engineer and owns his own company, Intentio Innovations, doing 3D designing of amazing buildings like hmm I don’t know the new Red Wings arena. Between the two of us, we would love nothing more than to have both our children take interest in STEM fields. This especially seems important for our daughter, since there seems to be such a lack of women in those fields (see this article from the AAUW about why that may be).
Personally, I was never really girly or a chop-my-hair-off tom boy but I was probably somewhere in the middle. I would help my dad hammer in a nail while building the new deck or play basketball with the neighborhood boy, but then take time to delicately brush out my Barbie’s hair and make sure her Dreamhouse was in tip-top shape. So, it should be no surprise to me that my daughter is turning out to be the same.
This is the little girl who had a Home Depot tool shop before her first dollhouse. She recently told me that she wants to play golf for a living to be just like her dad (FYI he does not play golf for a living, just wishes he did). But, this same little girl, without any coaxing from me, will tell you her favorite color is pink, she must earn another Barbie when she has a certain number of ‘no tantrum days’ (that’s another post, for another day), and loves to dress up.
I’m not sure where it came from. I never really saw it coming. She went from this toddler that didn’t seem to care so much about anything, to really being girly, like really girly.
And my son, well that seemed to be all boy almost straight out of the womb. There was a brief moment where I thought I may have to tell people to buy him dolls for his first birthday. Pretty soon I realized the dolls were simply a function of the majority of toys available to him (having an older sister), and this boy became all boy.
At just 1 1/2 years old, we can’t get too far without him yelling about a truck or a cool car he sees on the road, especially a semi-truck, “big truck, mama, big truck!” We went to a farm recently and he sat on a tracker; he cried when we had to take him off. Now, when we are at Home Depot, he thinks he can sit on every one.
Balls. I can’t forget about balls. I had a friend whose son is 1 year older than mine. She warned me one day, everything round will become a ball, so watch out. Well, she was right. We can’t go anywhere without excitement over balls. Did you know Target has big, red ones out front? Well, the whole parking lot does – my son told them. Watch out if you are in throwing distance at my house, because if a ball, or anything resembling one, is in his hands, he’s throwing it to you.
So what’s my point? There’s only so much I can do to lead my kids in one direction before they discover who they are all on their own. But I do want to help them succeed in life. I want them to be happy too, regardless if they fall into a gender stereotype or not. But, like me, I want them to find balance.