"I hate when girls try to talk about hockey,"
This was a tweet I read about a month ago.
We still live in a world that separates our activities, careers, and interests by gender.
As a woman running a nonprofit situated around the energy sector, sometimes I find myself out on the field, a male-dominated arena.
What I observe: Questions from women are sometimes ignored. Women are often the ones "protected" while on site. I have heard more than a few cases of sexual harassment.
I have female friends who are interested in cars. Who care about sports more than what they have on. Friends whose children tell them "we have to wait for daddy" to use a wrench to fix their toys.
Why are we still under the illusion that women can't comprehend or carry out certain activities?
There is the popular argument that "men and women are built differently" or "they have different capabilities."
I argue that our mental capacity can help us achieve greater things than our bodies can.
And as Charlotte Perkins Gilman puts it, however, "There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver."
When I was in elementary school, I had a math teacher that would scold and scold me for my incorrect answers. More than once I wondered if she was feeding on my misery. I developed a lasting mantra of "I'm bad at math I'm bad at math I must be bad at science I'm so bad at these subjects," that still rings in my ears today, despite the topnotch grades in high school and college.
This mantra left me feeling weak, unintelligent, and limited.
If I had been a boy - and really think: how often do you assume that someone is better at math or science just because he's a boy - would I have been praised or encouraged back to the correct answer?
It works the opposite way as well - boys and men are policed for participating in "girls" activities. But that's another discussion.
Coping with this stereotypes and limited beliefs, and returning home? Got you covered:
1). Don't try to prove anything. Because you don't have to. If someone is challenging you, being defensive is a fine response, but more often, it'll leave you feeling worse. Their opinion of you, correct or not, does not matter more. Your opinion of yourself does.
2). Educate. If you are in a situation where you feel that you belong, and gender generalizations are holding you back, use this as a moment of example. Being aware and tuning into your intuition is the best way to shift the energy around the situation. Communicating the issue works as well.
3). Return to your confidence. Take a minute of stillness for every minute you or someone else is making you feel like less because of what you enjoy. Remind yourself of that joy.
FeMantra: We are one. We are not separate, although society separates us. We are all limitless beyond our wildest dreams.