It’s a no-brainer: Kids should be encouraged to study what they love and what they are good at. So, if a girl loves science and math, then that should be applauded, right?
The problem is, there are subtle verbal cues that little girls often hear from a very young age that can discourage a curious mind from exploring these passions.
As this poignant ad from Verizon and Makers.com, a digital video initiative highlighting the accomplishments of women, shows (via Fast Company), a mother tells her daughter, “Sweetie, don’t get your dress dirty,” as she hikes along a stream. Later, when she’s a little older and using power tools on a project, her dad warns, “Careful with that, why don’t you hand that to your brother?”
They are innocent words, but the ad shows they can leave a big impression.
We previously reported that women hold only 24 percent of STEM jobs (aka: science, technology, engineering, and math). The reasons for the underrepresentation are many: A widely acknowledged institutional bias against female scientists, a lack of mentorship and encouragement of young women scientists, and a general unwelcoming atmosphere in the lab toward females. When women are being left out of these opportunities, it’s bad for the economy as well.
But these statistics don’t have to remain like this forever — and it all starts by simply changing a little of what we say.