If you have read some of the material on this blog, you probably have noticed that I am a graduate student as well as a full time employee. During my final online class this semester, we discussed a book called “Women Don’t Ask” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. The cultural issues and propositions brought up in this book are very interesting, but one I want to focus on in this blog post is how do we as southern women/parents go about implementing change to benefit the future culture and equality in the workforce?
One of the suggestions we came up with in class was to start encouraging our daughters to be interested in male dominated fields, but to also employ negotiation as an acceptable and required skill for our daughters. Negotiation and how to negotiate well is something that traditional cultural norms has discouraged for women.
Women tend to be concerned more with relationships and because of this may be more timid in asking directly for what they want in fear of jeopardizing those relationships.
So you may be asking, okay so how do we change these deep seeded cultural norms and stereotypes placed on women. My answer would be awareness and implementation. WE as parents must maintain an awareness of the gender and cultural norms we are passing down to our children. This can apply to both boys and girls. For example, gendered toys based on traditional roles (baby and housekeeping toys for little girls and dump-trucks and outdoor toys for boys). I am not saying that girls can’t like babies and what not, but I am saying that if our daughters want to play with brothers and their brother’s toys then that should be encouraged and vice versa.
Also, if our sons and daughters are arguing among themselves, and one comes to tattle, should the parent play mediator rather than dictator? Depending on what happened, I would say allowing mediation first would allow our children to learn to calmly discuss their problems and also learn to negotiate in a way. These simple but effective communication skills will then be a basis for further problem solving as our children grow into adulthood.
So what is your opinion about this? Do you think implementing an awareness of gender stereotypes to our children could change their perceptions of a woman’s role or a man’s in their workforce? What other ways would you approach this topic? I would love to hear from you!