I grew up my teenage years in a world that needed the catchphrase “Girls can do anything!"
Back in *my* day, girls were groomed for secretarial work, nursing, teaching, maybe a bit of lawyering if you were *really* smart, but eventually for marriage and children (not that there is anything wrong with that).
What we had back then was the beginnings, the kernel, the germination of the idea that girls could do anything.
In 1980 I had grown up not knowing that I couldn’t take advantages of any and all opportunities that came my way. Oh I knew I couldn’t learn to drive because my Grandfather said driving wasn’t for girls. I also knew that university wasn’t an option either because a) I wasn't smart enough to get schooled in the required subjects and b) I was far too immature for my age to consider such a lofty ambition.
I was, however, untapped potential, and anyone who spent any time working with the inexperienced me and had half a brain could see that. Which is why, after three months as a drawing office clerk, a good old fashioned respectable job for a young woman I might add, I was offered a four year mechanical draughting apprenticeship due entirely to skills gained due to my scholastic history of Christian Living and Typing - tracing and using office machinery.
Yes folks, if you were smart enough to smell it, I was ripe for the picking (sounds creepier than I meant it to).
That was in 1980. That was the year I started a *mechanical* draughting apprenticeship, which meant I had to study *fitting and turning*, trigonometry, metalwork, and sit Trade Certificate examinations.
It was the kind of opportunity the feminists who came before me had carved out for me. They had spent years making a world where I had more choices than had been afforded to them. I could choose to work. I could choose to have children. I could choose to do both those things.
I actually had choices.
That also means that I had a squewed view of the world thinking that girls *could* actually *do* anything. Which is why it’s flummoxing to see in 2015:
- women expressing their own intelligent, well considered opinions being slammed by the media and politicians alike for being ungrateful
- fewer women entering, let alone staying, in the world of tech and computing
- girls and women shying away from the word “feminist"
I have three grand daughters with more coming in the future, no doubt. They (along with their male cousins if they should ever present themselves: I'm not fussy) will be encouraged to make things - smart things. Things with chips and circuits. Things with software and logic. Things that give them delight and solve their problems. Things made with their hands and their hearts and their minds. To bring their ideas to life through stories and mechanics and electronics and artwork and craft.
This plan started years ago; this plan included yesterday. Tandia’s astonishment and delight at making a computerised machine. Her enthusiasm for creating the stories we’ll feed into its computer chip. Knowing that in a few short weeks she's going to begin to learn about programming to get those stories into her machine.
These are the toys of today; they are teaching our smart girls of tomorrow. These are some the skills they need to have all the choices in the future.