So we didn’t shatter that highest glass ceiling yet. Like many people, since last week I’ve been trying to stay positive and think of things I/we can do to promote a better, supportive society. A recent article in the New York Times shares stories from women who were told they couldn’t do something because of their gender, but they did it anyway.
I wanted to be inspired by this, but was totally depressed by all the times women have been suppressed or just not recognized as the capable people we are. One particular story that got me was of a young woman majoring in computer information systems who said, “It has been hard to stay motivated, but I do it for all the little girls who are told what they can and cannot do.” If I read that the week before the election I may have found it inspiring. But today, I just think of this poor woman trapped in something she doesn’t love (or worse, maybe she used to love it but has been worn down by all the negative reactions people have given her), ultimately doing it for someone else.
I want to be a good example. I love that Hillary Clinton was (is!) an amazing role model for girls everywhere. I want more women in STEM so that girls who are interested can see themselves in those fields. But is it a good decision for someone to devote their career to something because of a sense of duty? I really don’t know.
Pingback: Added commentary to the posting A Progressive Call to Arms | Stepping Toes
Honestly, I think that the best way to be a role model is to be true to who you are, to go where your passions lie, and to support others to do the same. If the career path you’re on isn’t taking you where you want to be, change directions. Being unhappy but remaining where you are out of a sense of duty might be just as likely to discourage as encourage girls in STEM, because it’s hard to hide dissatisfaction and unhappiness from students and mentees.
Stay because you love it, stay because you think you can make a difference, stay because you’re curious, stay because nature is your religion and the lab your church, stay because you need to know, stay because you’ve got something to prove, stay because you’ve come this far, stay because it’s the best way you can think of to earn a living, stay because you’re just plain stubborn. But don’t stay to please anyone else.
Think about it this way: would you pressure a little girl into STEM even if her passions lay elsewhere? Or would you support her on the path of her choosing?
Why treat yourself any differently?