Wearing pink and fixing cars - Improving diversity in male dominated fields starts early and it starts at home


Girl working
My daughter in her pretty pink dress getting her hands dirty helping her dad fix a car trailer

Who says a girl can't wear a pretty pink dress and help fix a car trailer?!

Improving diversity in male dominated fields starts early and it starts at home.

An article in the Engineers Australia Create Magazine quoted Professor Marilyn Fleer, Foundation Chair in Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University. 

“We know from our early research that very young girls are already being turned off engineering because they’re not getting a go,” Fleer said. 
 
“It’s not because of what teachers are doing or not doing, but due to the interactions between the boys and girls in the play space.” 

In a block-construction environment, for example, Fleer’s research shows that girls tend to hang back or take on an assistant role in the construction, passing blocks and resources, whereas the more dominant boys adopt a leading role, designing and building the tower.

“As children get older … there’s a compounding effect, in that girls go on to have less confidence and competence in STEM, it kind of explains the [engineering gender] gap that we’ve got now.” Fleer said. 
 
On the Mumgineer Podcast I have spoken to multiple women who have been told that " women wouldn't enjoy doing a trade because it will be hot, sweaty and dirty." Where do you think this stereotype comes from?

girl working
My daughter intrigued by her dad's work on the car trailer

I'm a firm believer that helping children feel confident in anything they're doing starts at home. There is a perception that girls are more delicate than boys. Any parent of a girl knows what I'm talking about. You may catch yourself holding your daughter back in fear of them getting dirty or hurt, but I think we need to ask ourselves "if this was my son, would I be holding him back?"

At young ages there is little difference between girls and boys; they're both as fragile as one another so why would we let one gender freely explore and learn from their mistakes and hold the other back to protect them? 

Before girls are getting to school and choosing a back seat when it comes to Science Technology Engineering Art and Maths (STEAM), we need to allow our daughters to explore, investigate and learn from doing. Don't hold your daughters back from exploring and doing something that interests them just because they might get hurt or dirty.

In my experience, girls love getting messy, investigating and taking risks just as much as boys do so why not let them go for it and reap the rewards later in life as they become more confident, competent and inquisitive children and adults.

Show your daughters they can do anything they want to do and one day the gender split in these fields will even out.


 


woman
Jessica is a civil engineer and mother-of-one who is passionate about improving diversity in male dominated industries and proving to women that it is possible to "have it all."

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