I remember as a girl always having internal questions. I mean a lot of them! I wondered about gender roles all the time.
Why did the women fix the plates?
Why was it that when it was time to clean up after gatherings, only the women and girls would get up to bust the suds?
Why did girls have more chores?
Why did girls have more rules?
Why did girls have to play nice?
Why did girls have to be well-behaved and quiet while boys could do whatever?
Why did girls have an earlier curfew?
Why did boys get to be themselves and have all the fun?
How have women done it for so long?
Was I the only one who felt this way?
Would I always feel this way?
Was it normal to feel this way?
I mostly wondered why life seemed to be so much easier for boys? I mean, seriously. I really wanted to know.
While in high school...
I learned that boys could be promiscuous with no backlash--no shaming, shunning, nor harassment; they could ask girls to do their homework and surely get the credit; they could score a touchdown and be shown favortism with teachers and staff; they could fill the bleachers at their basketball games; they could even do less work and still get the leadership roles in JR ROTC; they could wear what they wanted with no regard to how girls would look upon their attire, or lack thereof.
And college was no better...
I began to notice to that I could raise my hand and say something profound but a guy could say the same thing and it would hold more weight, get more ooh's and ahh's and establish him as a thought leader. I also, in those days, began to notice that I could bring up valid issues and they would be dismissed as complaining. My male peers could bring up issues on campus and be seen as ones to watch.
Were dress codes for girls and leadership for boys?
As a youth I often did not feel the freedom to express or to articulate my frustrations over the incessant messages that my gender limited me. Made me less than. Made me somehow inferior.
I just knew that going to college would change this paradigm; that my experiences would greatly differ because, after all, I was edumacated.
If I thought adulthood and a college education would level the playing field, boy was I in for a serious reality check.
I decided to pursue a career in education and I was soooo happy. I was passionate about helping youth reach their potential and where better to do so than in the classroom? I absolutely loved teaching! I inspired and was inspired many years. It just wasn't fair. Why did teaching require so much education and certification yet yield so little pay? Why so little respect? I couldn't help but wonder if the teaching industry were comprised of mostly male teachers if the industry would pay more. A look at the data shows that industries comprised mostly of women (i.e., daycare, teaching, nursing) do not pay well as compared to other industries requiring the same level of education.
Not much has changed in 20 years. The pay still lags and the prestige is at an all-time low. Today leaders in the industry have to be creative in recruitment and retention efforts. But, I said all of this to say that...
Girls can be ballerinas and CEOs...
They just need women (and men) to guide them and help them to navigate life in a man's world. They need to know they have an advocate in you and in me.
Shekina M. Moore, Ed.D. is an educator and gender & social justice advocate. She is the Founder and CEO of B2F Girls Worldwide, a gender empowerment incubator that produces advocacy initiatives, campaigns and events. She has spoken out against gender oppression and disempowerment since 1992, penning her first published article, "Blocking Out the Gender Gap", while a high school student. This article garnered the attention of the National Press for Women. She is also the author of Beautiful, Big-boned and Brown, Blah to Fierce and co-author of When Dark Chocolate is Bittersweet: Controversy Within A Culture.
She has since received many community, state and national awards for her work in social justice and gender advocacy, including the Volunteer Service Award signed by President Barack Obama and a standing ovation and read resolution by the GA House of Representatives. In 2015, she was named among Atlanta’s “Who’s Who” and was recognized as one of 52 Empowering Women Who Empower Girls in 2014. In 2016, The Huffington Post acknowledged that, “The need for gender advocacy in the marketplace is great” and went on to say that “Shekina is helping to aid that need by creating awareness and resources that focus on all genders, social justice and interpersonal prevention.”