The other day, as I was on my way to uni, my local radio station was broadcasting a report about the previous night’s events during which girls between 16 and 20 years of age were awarded prizes for their social dedication, listing their accomplishments. The purpose of the whole ceremony was to shed light on their achievements and make girls and young women more aware of what they can accomplish. Yada, yada, yada! I couldn’t help but make a disapproving face
even though I knew no-one was there to see it.
To me, things like this always seemed faulty, I mean, they’re supposed to specially praise female accomplishments but in reality, does this not widen the gender gap even more? We give prizes and awards to persons because of their gender not their overall achievements. Don’t we have it backwards there?
When I was in school, girls were encouraged to join Girls Day in order to learn more about male dominated jobs and career choices but I never went. Growing up around two strong examples of the female race (shout out to my amazing Mom and Gran) never let me question my ability to become anything I wanted to which is a great thing as the language of variables, numbers, natural constants and equal signs comes more naturally to me than any language I speak. And I also believe in the explaining powers of diagrams and formulas being more descriptive than words could ever be. I’ve had my own personal Girls Day every day when I cared to watch them handle their lives. You could argue though, that not every girl has these figures growing up and you’re right. It’s sad and I wish every girl had a strong role model to look up to while growing up.
Does it justify though, that we create ceremonies to pat ourselves on the back because what we do is huge for us because we’re women? Does little Lucy care about a stranger enough to look up to her accomplishments and model herself after that?
Nowadays there are also Boys Days so they can learn about mostly female dominated career choices and that makes it less icky for me. As long as we’re all treated equal I have no problem with this, or less of a problem.
I just feel that every time a woman is awarded something because she is a woman it makes me cringe with discomfort. This whole thing is messy and most likely very specific to me but I don’t want recognition of my work because of my gender but because what I did matters and is executed without fault. This is also why I distaste the idea of a woman quota in order to get more women to become executives and managers. Again, I don’t want to get a job because the company has to hire a woman to fulfil their quota requirements; I want it because I’m the best choice for it.
Maybe I’m lucky that way. I’ve never questioned whether I could do something or not because I was a woman. I didn’t feel out of place while I sat in classrooms surrounded by men. Sure, I still live in the academia bubble and the media constantly tells me that women are paid less than men for the same jobs; or that there aren’t enough female executives, professors, engineers and so on. But so far it’s usually been more of a blessing than a curse to spend my days around men. They speak my language without being backstabbing bitches. (This is completely over-examplifying, I know not every female co-worker talks bad behind your back and men are not immune to that either but it’s been my experience so far).
At uni, my gender only matters as I have the choice to go down the stairs on my way to or from the loo. The thing is, the engineering building is the oldest part of my university and it was always a male domain. This means of course, there is only a ladies room on every second floor as opposed to a men’s room on every floor and the office I work on my thesis in, is on a floor without such facilities. This wouldn’t even happen in Sweden as there are single bathrooms men and women can both use.
That’s essentially what I wish and hope the world is/will be like; gender doesn’t matter; race doesn’t matter; sexual orientation doesn’t matter; and disability doesn’t matter. Is this really too much to ask for? I can’t help but think of Virginia Woolf who thought that a writer performed best with an androgynous mind. Maybe all of humanity could benefit from androgynous minds.
All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing inferiority, belong to the private school stage of human existence where there are ‘sides’, and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the Headmaster himself a highly ornamented pot. As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in Headmasters or in highly ornamented pots.