Mummy stuff

No country for young women

Doctor or Nurse?

Doctor or Nurse?

My 4-year-old came home from school the other day, declaring that girls couldn’t be doctors. They had to be nurses. Only boys could be doctors.

Although I have been fuming about the idea that someone could somehow make Lil’ L believe that girls were inferior to boys, less capable, skilled or clever, I also haven’t been surprised.

In this country, equality for girls and the women they grow into is at third world levels. Sexism is a daily reality for most females, moral double standards are the norm and public scrutiny of looks is openly encouraged in the media.

A new representative study by Girlguiding UK among 1,200 young girls and women between the age of seven and 21 has revealed that sexism is a girl’s every day harsh reality.

87% of the 11 to 21-year-olds questioned in the study think they are judged by looks over abilities. More than a third said they had felt ‘patronized or made to feel stupid’ because of their gender, rising to more than 60% of the 16 – 21-year-olds.

And 80% of the 19 to 21-year-olds stated they had experienced sexual harassment, such as being shouted and whistled at, sexual graffiti and pornography, jokes and taunts as well as unwanted sexual attention, touching and stalking.

At the same time, girls are doing better at school than their male counterparts. Women are beating men at almost everything at university.

Still, they earn less as graduates, thanks to an age old class- and gender-dividing system that ties women to the bottom of the hierarchical continuum. With ‘lad culture’ on the rise, women are having to fight on too many fronts.

I had hoped that my daughters wouldn’t have had to put up with the same crap my generation had to. But our society is still just as hypocritical, biased and antiquated as it was 30 years ago when it comes to so-called gender equality.

Miley Cyrus and the whole role model discussion is annoying me beyond belief. Too much responsibility has been placed into the hands of a girl that is too young to even buy alcohol in her country – responsibility for a situation that has been thought up and created by a man almost twice her age. A dirty old man grinding his groin against a young girl’s peachy bottom – and here we are slating off the one who hasn’t even reached legal drinking age.

I don’t think it’s enough to raise strong girls. Boys have to be held responsible for their behaviour, too. Gender equality needs to be taught in schools and reinforced by politicians, the media and corporations. Raising two girls in this society frankly scares me, as I don’t think any of the above is going to happen anytime soon.

I came across Everyday Sexism and Miss Representation on twitter. Please do let me know if you know of similar projects that are worth supporting.



  1. Things like this make we want to live “off the grid” and homeschool and live in nature and just have my girl enjoy life. Even more so than my girl, I worry about HOW I’m going to teach my boy to be a respectful young man. ARGH.

  2. Jules says

    I think we worry about different things based on the gender of our children.

    I am American and live in Washington, DC. I have two school-aged boys. I have the exact opposite worries. Boys are 40% to the girls 60% of our universities. Boys are falling behind girls in every academic subject. Boys at our schools are not allowed to play tag on the playground (too dangerous). They are not allowed to go on the school’s grass in the winter. It is covered with a tarp to protect the expensive Bermuda grass. Their recess has dropped to 15 minutes a day.

    Studies show, at least in America, that the educational/teach to the test curriculum is geared to females. Little boys are punished for any ‘normal’ boy behavior. This means they learn to tune out early. They learn to not like school.

    America made great strides with girls when I was growing up in the 80s. “Take your daughters to work day’, girls can be anything, etc. The problem is–they completely ignored the boys. Oh yes–the boys will always be okay. Apparently, not. This is the one thing I loved about the Bush administration (there wasn’t much). Laura Bush (having only daughters herself)–but a former teacher–took on the task of the failing boy problem. It didn’t get much traction and it trailed off–but the need is there.

    In America, the primary reason women aren’t further ahead in the corporate world is the ‘child’ thing. The majority of women drop out once they have kids or ‘mommy-track’. Is it fair for a person that works 15 hour days to advance less than another person that is reduced to part-time? The US is seeing more women in leadership positions–the Marissa Meyers, Cheryl Sandbergs, Hillary, Nancy Pelosie and Condoleeza. The fact of the matter is–we really can’t have it all.

    Yes- women can be anything. I am a scientist—a molecular biologist. My boys have always seen a working mom. They are growing up around kids who have mothers that are the primary breadwinners and some dads that stay-at-home. So much has changed, but I think the one thing that is always going to hold us back is the pregnancy, birth, etc. I am the first to admit that once I had my kids I wanted to be around them all the time. I work from home now. For the next 10 years–I am happy with my flexiblity and my current position. I’d rather have face-time with my kids. Even some of the most high-powered women will struggle with this.

    Sorry for rambling—just my 2 cents.

  3. So so sad. Had she derived this from school/other kids? I agree, mothers of sons (me) have an equal responsibility to raise the men we want and need in the future. I actually grew up feeling everything/anything was possible. I was privately educated with both parents post graduates, mother a feminist so of I’m sure to some extent this influenced me.

    Here’s to big changes, sex sells and there’s the problem. When I see Miley Cyrus, I feel deeply saddened.

    Everyday Sexism are wonderful-they’ve RT me before-especially as one of few female directors, I’m often ushered to the make up area by those who’ve not met me on first days or assumed I’m an actress.

  4. Not that it’s any consolation but it’s just as bad in the US. I watched a video the other day about it and we have politicians talking to female journalists as if they’re idiots. One guy even said “You’re very beautiful but…..” and then went on to tell her how little she knew. She couldn’t believe it but no one else on the panel said anything to him.

  5. Shocking that she heard that at school – presume from another child? You can tell her that more women now go into medicine than men.

    I actually think things are better here than in America. Most of my Mummy friends here work part-time, whereas in the States they had all given up high powered careers to stay at home. The lack of maternity leave there is shocking, as is the resistance to part-time/flexible working.

  6. I keep being patronised every day. It just never stops. I have my own business and, as sometimes clients think I am the PA, I call an uncle to play the boss’ role. We have a good laugh afterwards! That said, it works wonders!

  7. It is so sad! The other night my mother and I went to see the movie Philomena and was just shocked at how cruel the world has been toward woman and then shocked a second time when I learned this treatment towards woman occured until 1996.

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