Isn’t it prophetic, that after National Women’s Day we have the opportunity to celebrate Son and Daughter Day… As mothers we sit on a perilous cliff, that precipice between the choice of career and family. And it is for the given-right to bear these sons and daughters that we often have to make decisions which not only impact their lives, but mostly our own.
For the most part, our sons and daughters will not understand the sacrifices or compromises we have had to make along the way…whether in our careers or in our relationships with partners or our families.
For the most part, they will be completely unaware of how much emotional work we do every day on ourselves…to remain accepting of our bodies after they no longer look like our own, to consistently choose our children’s needs over our own
For the most part they will remain a little selfish; demanding our every free moment, our very last ounce of energy and sometimes the very last thread of sanity we may have left.
During a time when we are holding it together, figuring out new ways of working, crafting schedules and routines which fit in homeschooling alongside work commitments; one has to wonder as a woman, how long will I continue to keep this sinking ship afloat?
Statistics have shown that women are disproportionately more affected by this pandemic. Domestic tasks and childcare still solely fall at the feet of women.
2020: Human beings planning journeys to another planet, AI technology able to ‘create’ in the same fashion as a human being
Also 2020: A time where men are unable to cook, clean or assist with childcare whilst their wives pursue a career.
These ridiculous disparities only exist, because for generations we have exposed our sons and daughters to the same outdated stereotypes. What would happen if we allowed our sons to read stories about powerful women? – women who showed resilience when the odds were against them. What would happen if those sons came to understand how difficult the journey has been for the women they see today as doctors, mountaineers, engineers, congresswomen? Would they not then become allies, champions for their sisters, for the female students sitting in their engineering lectures?
The truth is this, if we continue to ignore the lack of representation in STEM, the lack of policies which support better work practices or the lack of fair pay for the equivalent work done by a woman vs a man; nothing will change. Our daughters shall become just like the women we are now…holding it all together, wobbling between that precipice of family and career. The journey to achieving a more equal society can only begin when we give attention to the girl child AS WELL AS the boy child. My son enjoys activities which are focused on encouraging girls to realize their potential…he is his sister’s champion and he will remind her that she can do anything she chooses. He understands that focusing on girls in STEM does not make him any less important as a boy.
This Son & Daughter Day may you celebrate your child, for his or her individual skills. May you honor their presence in your life as they are and not what the world expects of them as boys or girls.
Kamentha Pillay is the STEM mom, owner of the STEM Mom blog and founder of the STEM Moms Club. She is an advocate, speaker & blogger for women in STEM & more inclusive workplaces. Through her work as an engineer, business management consultant & techpreneur she hopes to create a more inclusive STEM landscape in SA. She is a wife, mom, self-taught artist, a Mrs SA 2020 Top 50 Finalist & lover of dark chocolate.https://www.thestem-mom.com/