I feel particularly fired up this week.
Something happened last week that I just can't ignore. It's been bothering me ever since it happened. And since it has a lot to do with my passion behind the mission of Handcrafted HoneyBee, I wanted to share it with you.
My son was at sports practice, and as usual, I was hanging out watching him and giving him thumbs-ups and winks from the sidelines.
This particular organization has junior coaches that are high school and college students, and these young men and women are the ones that run the classes for the younger age groups.
One of the junior coaches is a young woman that will soon be going off to college.
As the young athletes around her stretched, I could faintly hear her talking to another female coach about the classes she was going to take. I could see the pride in her eyes. "English, Sociology, Math," she rattled off, "but I'm most excited about The Science of Nutrition."
Suddenly the head coach appeared behind her—an older man who is much-respected and admired by all the athletes there.
"You can't forget the 'Braiding Your Hair' class," he teased. "And the 'How to Apply Mascara' class, too."
She laughed softly, rolling her eyes at him, seemingly accustomed to this manner of jest.
I was appalled.
The thing is, I know this man probably didn't mean it as a sexist remark. He's a kind and friendly guy who works to instill athletic confidence in young girls every day.
But that doesn't justify the unspoken words behind the comment. He ignored her interest and excitement for science, and supported the awful stereotype that a female should only be concerned about her looks—even when she aspires to higher education.
And yet that didn't even feel like the worst part for me.
The worst part was that there were about 25 young boys and girls, ages 5-8, that were within earshot.
Including my sons.
And that's especially not okay with me. It's not okay that my kids could have heard a highly-respected mentor talk that way about women, particularly a woman pursuing a passion in college.
Luckily, my boys didn't hear it (I did some subtle asking after practice), but it did give us the opportunity to talk about how college is a place for young men and women to learn about things in which they're interested—including math, art, history, and science.
The experience got me thinking, though. We live in a world where there are still, unfortunately, many people who underestimate women. There are still those out there—good-hearted, well-meaning people—who unknowingly refer to all doctors, scientists, lawyers, mathematicians, and pilots as "he."
All of this has the potential to be discouraging to young girls who are dreaming about their ability to change and influence the world around them.
Although we can't shelter them from every single experience like the one I heard (think about the inundation of the many varied messages that permeate social media, traditional media, classmates, adults & mentors, etc), we do have the ability to make a difference.
We can help girls learn early that they are:
…no matter what anyone around them ever says.
You're going to be seeing the "Smart Is Cool" ethos infused more and more into Handcrafted HoneyBee across the board. Not just in our kits, but in every product we offer.
It's too important. Girls need to grow up believing in themselves. And we need to let them know that we believe in them, too.
Take it from this smart girl: it makes a difference. I promise.
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