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Do You Help Your Daughter or Your Son?

Last night at dinner Jane regaled us with a story where a male classmate told her to get out of the computer lab, “It’s for boys.” And she went on to other things at warp speeds (as 15 year old girls often do) when I had to give her a, “Whoa, whoa, back up! What did you say to this kid?”

“Nothing. I just finished my program first and asked him if needed any help.” And then she rolled her eyes and went back to talking about whatever it was that she had moved on to.

She’s aware that she’s the only girl in the room at times and one of only a few girls most other times but she’s never felt unwelcome (and still doesn’t). Top down there doesn’t seem to be any difference between boys and girls.

So when a teacher creates a lovely environment and a school gives every child every opportunity and then a little boy tells a girl she doesn’t belong in a computer lab what are we to do?

To be clear my daughter was not bothered by this. She just mentioned it as an example of why she doesn’t like this boy, not as an example of his empowerment or a trend at the school.

This isn’t a women’s issue. This is a kid’s issue. What are we telling our boys? How are we teaching them? When they see memes like Make Me a Sammich do we tell them that those are the young men with short careers ahead of them?

Via Know Your Meme

There seem to be two prominent boy cultures right now. One being the Nerd/Gamer/Geek culture which is emerging from deep roots in misogony and the other is sports which has it’s own issues. I have a lot of hope for tech (no clue about gaming because I’m simply not immersed). When you look at the leaders in technology and see men around my age with great early success know that there’s a good chance that they began in porn. I’m not saying this to out anyone or cause trouble but rather to explain that 20 years ago when people were building networks and sites the most profitable ones revolved around women showering in front of webcams. It was a boy’s club because how many women wanted to be the only one in the room with her clothes on? And the women that did work in porn production were a special hybrid of smart and tough.

As the older guys phase out I have no explanation for how a child could believe that computers are for boys. I certainly hope that no one tells my son that history is for girls. He happens to love it.

My daughter doesn’t seem to need any help feeling like STEM is for her. All parents talk about anymore is the importance of STEM, almost to the point of completely ignoring the humanities. Mercifully this talk is limited to parents who are school shopping (or hopping as the case may be) and not the sort of talk I hear from teachers and academics.

Having both a daughter and a son I’m finding that there really are no girls issues or boys issues.

Meanwhile the US Department of Labor put out this webinar for women and STEM (where women hold just 25% of the jobs).

I don’t really have any answers but I have a lot of questions.