Photo (cc) by sleepyjeanie
Is your little girl just pretty or pretty brilliant?
A thought-provoking new ad from Verizon depicts how seemingly harmless comments like “Don’t get your dress dirty,” “Who’s my pretty girl?” and “Why don’t you hand that to your brother?” eventually stifle a young girl’s interest in science. Here it is:
In case you didn’t watch it, the video brings attention to a startling statistic: 66 percent of fourth-grade girls say they like science and math, but only 18 percent of all college engineering majors are female.
The commercial suggests that social cues and subtle comments are discouraging girls from getting involved in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Verizon’s ad, in partnership with Makers.com and the Verizon Foundation, is part of its “Inspire Her Mind” campaign.
Rather than focusing on body issues and beauty, Verizon’s ad touches on something different. Amanda Marcotte writes in Slate:
This video tackles a much more insidious force holding girls back: the general pressure on them to be, for lack of a better term, more ladylike. It points out how we not only value beauty, but also prioritize neatness, quiet, and safety in girls while encouraging risk-taking and confidence in boys.
This commercial made me tear up. I have a 4-year-old daughter. I’m guilty of stopping her from exploring along the edge of a lake or climbing up a hill of rocks because I don’t want her to come back muddy or hurt.
It’s a great reminder that all children are natural explorers. I need to let my children’s intellectual curiosity roam and to encourage them. It’s easy to forget sometimes the profound impact our attitudes and what we say have in shaping our kids.
Who knows? My pretty little girl may be a budding scientist.
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