The unintended positive consequence of lack of diversity

9 12 2011

Ever since I’ve been blogging, I have been reading about all the challenges of encouraging young girls and women to stay in STEM fields, to become interested in STEM fields and about how all the subtle messages our media and culture send to inoculate girls (and boys) into specific gender stereotypes.  And as I read these posts, I often wonder why this marketing never affected me.  The answer hit me when I was speaking to a LGTB friend of mine. I am specifically highlighting the fact that this friend is LGTB because its that fact that mad the light bulb go off.

My friend and I were discussing the article in the globe and mail about how children of LGTB parents grow up with better “outcomes”. They tend to be more confident and less aggressive, open-minded and less suspectible to anxiety and depression.  My friend suggested that the reason was simple. As a LGTB any child she had was going to happen after intensive persona discussion and reflection. She wasn’t going get pregnant accidentally.  More importantly she already went against  society’s expectations for her, so she is better able to go against society’s expectations when raising a child (ding ding!!!).

Why did Barbie not make me feel like I had to be pretty? Why did I not feel like I had to look a certain way? Around grade 4/5 when most of start wanting to be pretty and become more aware about wanting to “girly”.  I was no different. I desperately wanted to be pretty. But the only way that was going to happen was if I was blond and blue-eyed. It took awhile, but after sometime I had to accept that I wasn’t going to magically going to wake up and look like the other girls. I was never going to be what society thought of as pretty. Even if they brought out an Indian barbie.

I guess when you’re not going to be pretty, according to the culture you live in, you no longer feel bound by their rules.When you NEVER see yourself in stereotypical roles, you don’t try to fit in them because those roles are not for you.

I’m not going to lie. This is not going to be true for most people.  As crazy as my parents, are they did do some great things. My father always encouraged us in STEM, all three of us. My brother and I had natural abilities so he always told us how smart we were. We were expected to do STEM, regardless of our gender.  I never knew that I couldn’t do science because of my gender until I started graduate school. I was always expected to do well in school. I was made very aware from a young age that as I child of immigrants, by both my parents and society that I was different. Lucky for me, my parents made sure to let me know that difference did not make me worth less.

I guess my point is, that although having role models is important for letting us know what we can do. Sometimes when we don’t have any role models, we are not aware that we can’t do whatever it is we want.




One response

9 12 2011

Interesting point. I can see how this might be true for some folks.

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