Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Indra Nooyi, Anne Mulcahy and Pat Woertz

Why won’t anybody leave me a comment:-( Seriously, nothing this cute should ever be ignored. Please notice me! Pay attention to me! Love me! I can see from my counter that people read…and that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. But I need more than your casual observance…I need your proactive love…

Back to my story from earlier, I am going to get a little bit socially active for a moment. Morning sex and social activism in one day…wow.

To start with, quick you know who the three people listed in the title of this post are? More importantly, if you have a teenage daughter, does she know who they are? If not, then you are not being a good parent. Sounds harsh, but read on.

The field trip ran a bit long, so I was at school half an hour before the bus got back. I went into the cafeteria to get some coffee while I waited and there was a group of eight or nine girls with one of the teachers. The school runs from kindergarten through 12th grade (the high school kids pretty much get their own wing of the building) and these were all older girls. Some of them look older than me…hee hee.

Anyway, they were talking about the stock market, which I thought was kind of an odd topic, so I kinda dropped in and listened. They broke up and I asked the teacher what they were doing. She told me that she had started a group a couple years ago for girls approaching graduation.

Her goal is to expose them to career paths that they might not otherwise know. Which I think is super cool…for fuck’s sake, it is the 21st century, and we can tell girls that they are allowed to be things other than nurses and teachers. I told her what I do and she asked if I would come back and talk to the girls about it. I actually volunteered one of my bosses, who is one of the very few partner-level women in the industry I work in (in fact, she gets her own nickname: Boss Foxy). Hopefully she doesn’t get mad at me volunteering her:-D

This phenomenon is, honestly, something I have thought about before, but I was surprised to hear it in this environment. The kids that go to this school aren’t your average kids. The tuition is astronomical (my sister’s annual tuition is more than my college tuition was by almost double) and so the kids come from pretty well-healed homes. And yet, even being the children of the most successful people, the girls are STILL not encouraged to do the things that get people into that social stratosphere.

It is a societal embarrassment…a complete and utter fucking embarrassment…that 90% of engineering majors are guys and 90% of nursing majors are girls. TEACH YOUR GIRLS THAT THEY CAN LIKE MATH AND SCIENCE. Teach them that Paris Hilton is a fucking clown who hates herself, and that their heroes should be people like Meg Whitman or Boss Foxy.

I don’t mean the rudimentary “Oh, you can do whatever you want” talk. We all got that. I mean a lifelong reinforcing that there is a whole big world out there and that choosing which part of it to conquer is her fucking birthright. If she ends up as an elementary school teacher, then so be it. But if she does that because she never really knew what it meant to major in math, work for Goldman Sachs (funny, I orginally wrote "Lehman Brothers", and now two years later I am changing it...oh that pesky bankruptcy!!!), get and MBA from Yale and run a hedge fund, then you failed her.

In fact, if you have a daughter, IMMEDIATELY go out and buy a copy of Fortune Magazine’s most powerful women. It just came out and should still be around. And if it isn’t, email the magazine and ask for a copy. Or take ten minutes, sit down with your daughter and tell her “You can be one of these women, and I just wanted to tell you that I will help you if you want to.” It is a brief act, but it is a big one.

And don’t skip the “Highest Paid” list, either, since that is kind of the point, too.

Tell your daughters to aim high. Tell them to expect great things of themselves. Tell them to WANT great things of themselves. And never fucking apologize for standing up and saying “I want that, and I am gonna work my ass off to get it.”

It will make her happier, it will make you happier, it will decrease the chances of her getting into a shitty relationship, and it will make the world a better place.

There, I am off my soapbox for the day.


e.b. said...

I was re-reading my diary entries from my teenage years. Somewhere in there I thought I was going to rule the world. Which is an awesome thought. Looking back it made me proud that I had that goal and determination. Someone (ah um my parents) had to have instilled that in me. Good work to you (and them)!

kimberly said...

Nicely put. I am in a field where the office I am currently in, I am the only female. And there have been times where I am not sure if I am being yelled at because I am young, or because I am a woman and someone to take frustrations out on. Granted, it doesn't happen often, and I think my boss is pretty happy with my on the all-around, but it is something that I have to deal with on a daily basis. I am lucky enough though to work with three amazing guys, to whom all of them I feel like a little sister. They look out for me and are mentors.

It is inspiring that in my graduating class of Master of Architecture, we had more females than males. So I think women are finally beginning to break out of their stereotypical roles!

Anywho. I also work part time at the local supermarket to help with my school loans, and the one thing that really irritates me are the girls who are just graduating from high school.

I asked them, "so what are your plans after graduation??"

"umm... I was just planning on working here" (part time, mind you)...

me: "ohh, so what about college?"

"well... i don't really like school."

wow. sounds great. maybe i'll just shoot myself now. such potential. such waste.

do you think you have it? said...

Love this. I read this post first, since the link told me to read it. I'm glad I did.

The one thing I want to point out, though, is the stigma that goes along with being a woman in a position of power. I'm not sure that one is so easily fixed, since men seem to have it in their minds that to be with a woman who earns more, has more power/influence, is emasculating. It seems like it's becoming more and more of an issue as more women are climbing the corporate ladder while still trying to maintain the "sweet subservient woman" image that seems to be so attractive to men.

Hmm... makes you think, doesn't it?

straw76berry said...

I love this too!! As a mother of three fab daughters this issue is very important to me. I am a very strong independant woman and I am hopefully bringing up my daughters to be strong, independant, free thinking women that never settle for second best and never swallow second class citizanship! however I want to get the right balance because I don't want to raise obsessive man haters either!! x

Thisisme said...

I love reading this post!! I've read it multiple times over the time I've been following your blog! (:

ps- where is the "counter" that lets you know people are reading your blog?

Anonymous said...

I realize I'm a little late in the game here, but I just found your blog and am starting from the beginning to read your story in chronological order (yes, I am that anal retentive...) So, I just read this particular post and wanted to say THANK YOU. My mother always told me I could be whatever I wanted and I so appreciated that...because I went out and did it! I have a 16-year-old niece who needs to hear the same thing so I'm going to let her read your post...well, I might cut out a few of the colorful words first... :-D