If Barbie can’t design a computer program, then what can she do?
Well I’ll tell you what she can do, she can read.
Girls are excelling at reading, and often times leaving their male counterparts in the dust. More boys may be making up the “tech world,” but recent studies have shown that boys are also dropping out of high school at a higher rate than girls, and more and more of colleges are being made up by a majority of women.
Recent Chicago Tribune op-ed “Barbie Should Break the Geek Ceiling,” editors cite that “women are woefully underrepresented in the computing and technology fields.”
This fact may not just be hurting women, but men also. The gender association with occupation is closing doors not only for females, but its showing males that jobs not involving math and computing would be better done by women.
To have true gender equality, the problem must be assessed from both sides. If women can design computer games and be engineers, then it should acceptable for men to be librarians. It is difficult to assign a single problem to the gender gap, but the lack of enthusiasm shown by males to read could be a significant contributing factor.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college enrollment is nearly 60 percent women and only 40 percent men. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in 2008 17-year-old boys were 24 percentage points below girls in reading, and 18 points above them in math.
Sexual generalizations are still a very present factor in our society, even though drastic measures have been taken to prevent discrimination. To change the way that young boys and girls view their potential, changes must be made young. By assigning gender-typical jobs to Barbies, it may limit the scope of jobs that young girls find themselves desiring.
Dreams are often inspired by events in early childhood and fostered throughout life. If the dreams of young girls, and even young boys are limited very early on, then their chances of finding something that truly makes them happy in the future becomes harder to attain.
Dakotah Hamilton resides in Boulder.