For centuries, women have been fed ideas about how to behave lady-like and never venture into the forbidden zones of “boyish activities”. Ideas dictating how girls should talk and walk, which activities they are allowed to take part of and what subjects they are supposed to learn, forcing every girl to keep her talents hidden so that she won’t be labeled as a tomboy.
It is a widely known fact that girls are smarter than guys, yet the girls that like to explore every aspect of their minds and join a tough college, like engineering for instance, are immediately labeled as “girls with moustaches”! Although, if we search for engineers that have left their mark on the world, we would find that a lot of them were women including Martha Coston (1826-1904) the woman from Baltimore who created the lighting signal to define her and her children location during The Civil War so that passing ships will track them and save them, or Marilyn Jorgensen Reece (1926-2004) was the first woman to earn a full license in civil engineering, as well as design the San Diego-Santa Monica Free-Way interchange in Los Angeles, where she resided.
Another example of things that has been strictly marked as a boyish activity is football. Despite the fact that it is a sport just like any other sport and that with some training girls can get as good as guys in it, it is rare for girls to make the team. In our society, we refer to little boys who don’t know how to play football as "weird" as it has become one of the main things boys have to learn while growing up, but when a girl plays football she is thought of as a tomboy and most of the time is made fun of. Lately, some countries have been starting girl’s only football teams, but for the young children that grew up with gender roles engraved in their minds, such a path seems too hard to walk through and sometimes they end up by giving up.
Engraving gender roles in a child’s mind takes a lot of time, but erasing it takes even more time. The new generations are becoming more liberal and starting to change the ways that women were limited to specific activities, but the change is not happening fast enough. We have to start with ourselves, our children, and our families to change the ideas that have been holding us back. All it takes is a speck of bright light to reawaken hope of a better tomorrow. Had similar experiences? Was there something you wanted to do but society held you back because it was “un-ladylike”? Share your experience with us; we’d love to hear it!