Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 8, 2011

We’ve Come a Long Way, Let’s Keep Moving Forward

Several months ago, a group of young women from the Middle East visited northern Minnesota as a part of a State Department-sponsored leadership program.  The women were taken on a tour of a local Mine and I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with them and answer their questions about working in a Mine as a woman.  I’ll always beam with pride at our country when I think about the young woman who raised her hand and asked me, “do the boys take you seriously when you’re talking about science?”  I told her, “yes they do, especially the men my age, who have never thought of girls as anything but their equal.”

It’s easy for someone my age to forget that my generation is the first that didn’t have a huge battle to fight to get where we are.  I took it for granted that I would be able to play sports in high school and take the same classes as the boys and choose my own path later in life, whether that was to be a professional or a mom or both if I damn well pleased.  When I spoke to these girls from countries that are sometimes openly hostile to women, I reminded them that many of the changes in our country were relatively recent and that they were the women who had the potential to make the same dramatic changes that the women before me did.

I wrote in 2009 about working in a Mine as a woman and how 99% of the time, I feel at home.  Occasionally I’ll meet someone at work or in the community that still doesn’t seem overly thrilled that women are working in the Mines, and sometimes that person in the community is a woman.

That’s going to happen.  I’ve accepted that, for some people, they can’t deal with a woman who is perfectly content to go to work everyday and not stay home with children.  (Granted, that’s a whole separate topic for a blog! Oh wait, here it is!).  To me, the critical factor is that it’s my choice what I do with my life and that I have that choice.

I went to a Mining meeting tonight where, quite frankly, there were too few of us double-Xer’s.  I’d love to see more young women getting into science and engineering and staying in those fields.

I’ll continue to reach out to young women and encourage their goals and aspirations, but also, for my 8th day of donation, I’ve selected the American Association of University’s Women (AAUW).  The AAUW’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

Some folks misinterpret my strong feelings about equity to think it’s a bash on stay-at-home-moms.  Not one bit.  Equity means we get a choice.  We’re equal partners, citizens, parents.  Empowerment doesn’t strip us of our femininity or ability to nurture.  It only builds upon what we already have to offer the world.  An empowered mom makes a decision with her husband that is best for her family based on thorough consideration by both partners.

The women that came before me blazed the trail, but if my generation doesn’t keep pushing down that trail, the grass will grow back up.

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