When I was in kindergarten, my teacher gave our class a special art assignment. Using construction paper, scissors and glue – as well as other crafty items on hand – we were instructed to make hats to represent what we wanted to be when we grew up.
Most of the boys made hats that resembled firemen helmets or policemen caps. Most of the girls made hats that resembled nursing caps or they just made cute little hats with flowers drawn upon them, and then wrote the word “teacher” or “mommy” on top.
Using blue construction paper and drawing golden wings on my creation, I informed my kindergarten teacher that I wanted to be a pilot.
She laughed. “Don’t be silly,” she said. “Little girls can’t grow up to be pilots!” She scribbled the word “stewardess” on my hat instead.
That was 1973. And in the deep south, mind you, where girls who actually went to college were often times simply encouraged to get their MRS. degree.
Now whether I grew up to become a pilot or a stewardess or a nurse or a doctor or a Mrs. is beside the point if any of those (or all of those) were MY choice.
But to take the choice away from the developing mind of a young girl was, unfortunately, par for the course during that time period. Nothing more than sexist propaganda being perpetuated by my female teacher because she, no doubt, believed it herself or felt she had no right to believe otherwise.
Fast forward forty-seven years and we, women, can now grow up to become anything we want to be.
Unfortunately – compared to a man’s salary – we’re still only getting paid 81 cents on the dollar to do it.