It’s only a few months since I wrote about my frustrations at Amy’s desire to be “the farmer’s wife” and last night I found myself confronting gender stereotypes with my children once again . . .
Driving to Street Dance last night and we found ourselves having one of our “Wednesday Chats” – it started off fairly innocently with a conversation about the fact that Dr Ranj is indeed a real doctor. We were talking about how whilst he does a variety of jobs on TV, he’s also still a practising NHS doctor. Chloe thought the idea of potentially being in hospital and treated by Dr Ranj was hilarious, especially if you were watching him on TV at the same time.
As we were chatting she said “Wouldn’t it be funny if Dr Ranj was your nurse?“. I corrected her with something along the lines of “No love, Dr Ranj is a doctor!” The conversation continued and she mistakenly referred to Dr Ranj as being a nurse again. As I began to correct her again, a voice came from the back of the car . . .
No Chloe! Dr Ranj isn’t a nurse. Doctors are boys and nurses are girls!
Woah, woah, woah hang on a minute there Ben?! That’s some serious gender stereotyping you’re rocking out there!
We had quite a stern conversation where I explained that the difference between doctors and nurses was to do with the type and level of training undertaken and the jobs they do, and nothing at all to do with whether they have a willy or not.
I was shocked and more than a little disappointed in my son’s apparent sexist attitude but then the more I thought about it the more I realised that this is all to do with his life experience. Ben has (thankfully) had very little contact with medical professionals in recent years but when he has, the GP has been a man, the nurses? All women. I don’t remember a time that Ben would have seen a female doctor or a male nurse.
It just shows how important it is that our children, through books, tv and real life experience, encounter a range of people doing a range of different jobs. That they know that their gender should bear no relation to their career choice. It’s up to us to challenge their perceptions and ensure that they grow up knowing that your job isn’t confined to boundaries dictated by your bits and pieces, is decided by your ability and ambition.