Don't Let Labels Hold You Back

It’s 2013 and we’ve come a long way with recognizing that gender stereotypes but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Discrimination often happens subtly today. Women are faced with different challenges than the ones their mothers and the women before them faced.

Women hold jobs and have families. They share responsibilities of home life with their significant others. Men cook. These are all normal things to many of us. But the quiet pressure is still there that keeps us fighting the same old stereotypes that our grandmothers did.

When a man puts in extra hours at work, he is seen as taking responsibility for his family. In many cases, when a women does this, she is seen as neglecting hers. It’s never questioned when a man conveys his authority, but a woman runs the risk of being perceived as bossy instead of authoritative. Does this happen in every workplace? Absolutely not. I believe that women have more opportunities than before thanks to the men and women who believed in equality and fought for it in decades past. But I also see the little things that we do on a daily basis that holds us back.

Patene–yes, the hair care company–launched a commercial to join the conversation on labels and gender biases. It’s beautiful and moving. In the end, they’re still trying to sell shampoo, I know, but give credit when credit is due. Pantene is using their large platform to speak to a very large audience about something significant. Like the Dove campaign on real beauty, Pantene is calling attention to the stereotypes that exist right now.

I wrote about this exact thing earlier this year. This commercial, this subject and this challenge we face touches me deeply. I hope it will continue the conversation.


Some Girls are Called Bossy

August, 14, 2013 Blog Post

Why is it that when a little boy comes in with a tie and acts in charge he is seen as a future boss but in the same situation, a little girl who delegates and directs is more often described as bossy? Manners have taught us that we should listen to our elders. And when we emulate them, it’s natural for little boys to emulate traditional male roles. The same manners have taught us that girls should be polite, accommodating and compassionate. It is our job to “care” for others while often the focus for males is to lead.

Both sexes have a lot of natural and genetic tendencies and compassion still is something that girls should work towards–it’s something everyone could work more for. But we are in a new world and the lines between the roles of men and women have been blurred. Change starts on a very small level and even the most minute detail can affect someone’s life for years to come.

I can remember the first time I was called bossy. Gasp, yes me (I know it’s hard to imagine). I was ten and trying to create the rules for our neighborhood game of hide and seek at dusk. There was a group of 9 or 10 of us kids and a few parents. We were on the back porch of my girlfriends house, trying to get the game together. My friend’s mother laughed and said that I was born to be bossy. I stopped contributing. My friend, Brett, took the lead and laid out the rules. The mother didn’t call him anything.

These perceptions have been built up for a long time. My friend’s mom was not wrong, she was following the norm. But I wonder today how different my path would have been if I had always been encouraged to lead, the same as my male counter-parts. We can change the boundaries that girls will face by changing the way we think about male and female roles. I challenge you to think before you describe anyone. If every detail were the same, but that person was the opposite sex, would you describe them differently?

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