Women who can’t decide whether to return to the workforce on even a very part-time basis might find some wisdom in this story.
Last week I was at my daughter’s swim meet where both boys and girls were competing. It was an informal practice meet, so the children were just getting the hang of procedures. In each heat, the girls were slated to swim before the boys. One young boy under the age of 10 was sitting near me watching the girls dive in. He was undone because the boys were not the first swimmers.
“Hey, why aren’t boys first?” he demanded of the coach. The young female coach, thinking he was just being playful, quickly said, “Oh, I don’t know…ladies before gentlemen.”
The young boy clearly did not like that answer. I could see him intently working on a powerful retort. Finally he blurted: “But men go to work!”
The coach and I exchanged looks of great surprise. I wondered if, while I wasn’t looking, we had traveled back in time to 1952.
Hmmm, I thought. No woman president yet. Few women on corporate boards. Not enough women in the C-suite. Unequal pay for equal jobs. Any hope for change if today’s young boys think that only men work and men should be first?
We all try to be role models for our children — as a way to instill kindness, integrity, honesty, and many other life skills and qualities. A working mother can be a role model for children, too — especially if little boys don’t understand that women can be first and important, too.