The winds of change are upon us....
Imagine there were women, intelligent, talented, confident. Women who are at once assured and feminine. Women who can define what it means to be the best version of themselves, who aim for the clouds in their areas of talent, and who aren't afraid to like pretty things, raise children well, imagine, dream, care...
To me, this looks so different from what the "y" and "z" generation often refer to as "feminist" while shaking their heads, meaning what we used to call at Rutgers U a "femi-nazi": a woman who rejects her femininity, is perturbed by children or the option to stay at home for any length of time for the good of the household, who dresses in those 1980s shoulder-padded suits and always looks angry in her cropped haircut and manly shoes. There has been some talk over the last years about the millenium generation and their refusal to call themselves "feminist"... and about the younger generations who really believe (as much as they believe anything) that feminism is some movement that happened back in the 1960s because women didn't want to wear bras.
It's really sad, in one sense, that so many women and men cannot see the struggle that was, and the struggle that is - that they don't know women currently hold a 17% unemployment rate in the US alone, and that they still get paid less than men for the same job in many, many jobs. And this also means a failure to understand the beyond-high risk women are at around the globe, particularly in the middle eastern cultures, and in third world countries.
But in another sense, there is a silver lining. At some level, the concerns of 1920s and 1960s and 1980s feminists have been realized. Many of these folks would not agree with me, but I would suggest many of the Most Important issues have been resolved or are close - like women's voting, equality in the workplace (in larger companies), educational opportunities, and also the right to hold offices and jobs never before imagined by women. Younger adults don't feel the need to identify with the "movement" because they don't see the same looming challenges in their daily lives.
About two weeks ago, an AMAZING product of this silver lining flashed its way across my facebook page, and I HAVE to share it with you. As I know from some of the students I have worked with, some fields just attract significantly more men than women. (My experience in theology is one of them!) One obvious field is engineering. According to recent surveys, 89% of engineering students are male. And finally, some brilliant people are asking why. You could just jump ahead to this Clip You Have To See, or read on for a bit, and then go back.
It seems that one of the reasons little girls are not drawn to math- and mechanically- based careers is that the space has not been made for them there. That is to say: Now don't be shocked: girls are attracted to learning in different ways than boys. What?! No, I didn't say harder, less enlightened, more limited! Different.
(As a total aside, last week I was at a Theology of the Body arts concert and a young woman on line behind me on the very long line to the rest room snorted after watching five men breeze in and out of the men's room while we hadn't moved. Here's theology of the body she chuckled. Tell me that men and women aren't different. )
In the past, this video tells us, the toys designed to promote spacial reasoning have been developed specifically with boys in mind. Boys build. Plain and straightforward. So legos, lincoln logs, you get the idea. Some girls love these toys. Not many have them on their Christmas lists, though. So those companies thought that by making their products pink, they would be saleable to girls. It was a start, but only mildly successful.
Then this young woman, an engineering student herself, a confident, intelligent and attractively put together young woman, came up with the idea for Goldie Blox, and I think the world is going to change. Finally, there is a toy designed with the sort of things that are attractive to girls, to invite them to think and reason, with parts that are pretty, and a story that appeals to their imaginations. Suddenly, all that effort behind an ongoing movement quietly, easily, almost naturally has come to fruition in a moveable mechanical world of pink ribbon and teddy bears that teaches girls how to develop spatial and mechanical learning. It's genius, and you should buy one for the little girls in your life.
I know this is already a long post, but one personal story. When my husband saw this toy, he loved it. But he was shocked to see the stats - that only 11% of engineers are women. That's because he grew up with an aunt who is a professional engineer. When he mentioned she was part of the 11% she said, back in the day she was part of the 2%. And then he realized his sister in law is an engineer, and so is a female cousin. The generations are changing, slowly but surely making way for talent, regardless of sex.
It's not nearly as important as finding jobs for single mothers, food for disenfranchised women in foreign nations, help and education, work and freedom for the many thousands of women who suffer around the world. No, it's not. But these continued strides here in the US continue to build bridges, to open doors, and to make women and men more aware of our value and dignity, female and male, equal and beloved. And every door we open makes way for a bigger and better way, so all our sisters and brothers might know the truth of the human person, made for one another in the image of the loving and merciful God.