“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Ask an average group of 10- to 12-year-olds in theUnited States, and more than one in four will say famous athlete or singer/actor. Pose the same question to their counterparts in the developing world and professions requiring a college education, like teaching and medicine, top the list.
I think that’s fascinating.
The statistics above were reported by NewsUSA this week, findings from the Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, www.childfund.org, which polled close to 5,000 children ages 10 to 12 in 44 countries throughout Africa, Asia and theAmericas— from Afghanistan to Zambia.
Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, said the survey found that children who grow up in poverty recognize more than anyone the power of education to a successful future. When they are surrounded by poverty, they look for a way out and that way out is education.
I read that story right after I read one about the massive amount money Americans spend on all things princess – from glitter, play castles and tiaras to extravagant dress up party businesses all focused on a fairy tale dream come true.
Here’s my concern. If we’re surrounding our girls with products that emphasize that what’s important is physical appearance and the dream of a man coming to your rescue, well, what’s that saying about their worth? Are we producing a generation of women whose only goal is to compete for the attention of The Bachelor?
That’s a future too troublesome to contemplate.
Play time and fantasy is important, but I think our girls are in trouble.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media reports that males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. This ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
It also found that females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire and twice as likely as males to be shown with diminutive waistlines or completely unrealistic figures.
From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medicine, as a business leader, in law or politics. In these films, the Institute reports, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female. Real-world statistics show that women comprise 50% of the workforce.
Is the message we want to send our girls the fact that women aren’t valuable members of the workforce, or are simply there to be pretty? I don’t think so.
I think we can do better than show our girls that being a princess is all there is. (To quote Geena Davis, “It is a great gig if you can get it, but job openings are few and far between.”)
Let’s learn something from the children in the Small Voices/Big Dreams survey. Let’s place our hopes and dreams in our ability to raise girls who want to learn and use their heads to better our world. They don’t need to wear a tiara to do that.