Finding role models for girls these days can be tough. We are swamped in the media by a slew of women, and I will use that term loosely, who don’t really have any talent or skill. Messages in the media teach girls to be self absorbed and petty and strive for a career for the sake of being famous. They reward drama not determination, and honestly it makes me cringe. That is why I will be making a concerted effort to make sure Baby Roo, and the boys for that matter, know that there is MORE out there. There are amazing women in a variety of careers who are doing great work every day to help improve the world around us. I was never one to let traditional gender boundaries stop me from learning or trying something new. It was not always easy being one of the only girls in computer programming or physics in high school, but I learned a lot both in “book smarts” and life lessons during those times. I want to make sure my daughter knows that she can do anything, and can be anything that she wants. There are so many amazing career paths out there for here. Here are 5 inspirational women who are worth looking up to, and talking about to your daughters:
Jane Goodall – Animal Rights Activist and Biologist – For over 55 years Jane has been researching animal behavior in chimpanzees in Africa. What started with Jane’s work has lead to the longest running study of its kind and inspired generations of new scientists to continue and expand on her studies. From her work there have been more then 165,000 hours of data collected by observing more then 300 chimpanzees. And from that more then 400 academic papers have been published. Jane also established the Jane Goodall Institute dedicated to Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation. Now that is something to celebrate!
Marie Curie – Physicist – A woman in a man’s world Marie Curie faced many challenges when it came to her education and career. She claimed many firsts along the way, but her most notable is likely winning not one but TWO Nobel Prizes, in 1903 in physics and 1911 in chemistry. Her work on radiation spear headed developments such as the x-ray machine and radiation treatment for cancer. Her daughter, Irene Curie-Joliot, followed in her mother’s footsteps also became a scientist and won a Nobel prize in 1935.
Barbara McClintock – Geneticist – now some people might think studying corn is boring. Not Barbara, by studying the genes and chromosomes in corn she discovered “jumping genes” that can move from place to place on a chromosome. In corn this looks like changing colour of the kernals, but it was a radical shift in thinking at the time. After her discoveries it took almost 20 years for the scientific community to accept her findings and it was 30 years after her first experiments that she was awarded her Nobel prize. Talk about perseverance over time!
Mayim Bialik – Neuroscientist, Actress – At first look you might recognize Mayim from her work as an actress. If you are like me you remember her early work on Blossom, and more recently The Big Bang Theory. But did you also know that she is a neuroscientist? That is right after Blossom ended Mayim attended university to study neuroscience and went on to complete her PhD. Now this is one actress I can get excited about. Mayim is also a mother who is is willing to stand up for what she thinks is right (and is scientifically backed for that matter) when it comes to raising her kids. Scientist, actress, and mother… I *may* have a bit of a fan girl crush on her.Barbie – Over 150 Careers in her lifetime – Ok, now before you think that I have jumped off the deep end, hear me out on why I think that Barbie can be a great inspiration to young girls. Talking to kids about different careers can be tricky. Visual aids help children learn and understand, and play based learning is one of the best ways to learn. So what is better then combining play, imagination, and learning all into one. An honestly no human can compete with the wide variety of careers that Barbie has had in her lifetime. In just the last 15 years she can be found as a pediatrician, architect, zoologist, computer engineer, dentist, veterinarian, paleontologist eye doctor and CEO. While Barbie might not be the first person you think of for an inspirational women I can’t wait to use her to show my daughter that you can be anything you want to be, and while it is fun to have friends around you can accomplish a lot all your own.
There are so many inspirational women out there, and I am looking forward to the conversations I will get to have with my daughter as she grows about the triumphs and challenges they faced. My wish is that in talking to her about these women and so many more she will be inspired to forge her own path, because she really can be anything!
What inspirational women do you look up to in your life? Do you make sure to talk to you kids about them too?