I’ve been keeping on top of the gender pay gap discussions over the past weeks since the BBC announced the salaries of it’s top earners. This has seemed to generate a massive amount of public debate. This morning, BBC Radio 4 hosted a discussion on gender stereotyping children and the impact this has on confidence, wellbeing, career choice and as a result, pay.
As a parent, I’m sure I’m not alone in daydreaming about what type of person my son is going to grow up to be and what he will do for work, based on what I think he is good at. At the grand age of 2 and a half I have noticed he is very dextrous with his hands and as a result I’ve already decided to buy him a BRIO builder construction set for Christmas this year. I can only wonder if I would do the same if I had a girl who showed similar traits.
After reading and hearing about people’s gendered experiences of skills, schooling and work, it’s hard to admit but I felt a sigh of relief that I am raising a boy, with another one on the way. The gender gap seems to predominantly disadvantage girls. However, boys aren’t completely off the hook. I don’t want to raise a boy who feels he has to fit in to a certain type of masculinity. want him to be able to express his feelings and not to feel he has to be brave all the time. I’ve made a mental note to tell my husband to let him see him cry.
Yesterday I caught myself encouraging my son to choose the blue gingerbread boys over the pink gingerbread girls at Waitrose. I just did it automatically. Despite my subtle comments he chose pink, and I’m glad. Who knows what he’ll end up doing for work. I just hope that I don’t subconsciously push him to do something because he is a boy.