Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Miss Representation

What is your daughter seeing when she turns on the TV?  The average child, age 8-18, spends 7 hours and 45 minutes being exposed to media, including TV, radio, and print.  What do young girls see when they look at the media today?
  • Girls have less career options.  Only  35% of girls in G-rated movies have a career, compared to over 60% of male characters. 
  • Girls need to be attractive/sexy to be successful.  This is all over the place.  Print ads with scantily clothed women outnumber women dressed for business tens times over.  Women in media are praised for their attractiveness, their sexiness, ect.  Men are praised for achievements.
  • Girls shouldn't be in STEM.  85% of STEM characters are men, only 15% are women.  
  • In order to have smart ideas, they must be balanced with ditsy moments. Now i'm not talking about the occasional muck-up we all have, I'm talking major character flaws.  Take Amy from Big Bang Theory.  In real life, the actress has a PhD in nueroscience, similar to her character, but she acts completely boy crazy and lacks many social skills.  Why is there such a steep price to be smart?
      When girls are assertive, they are called bossy, and their characters are made dumb, as if to say that they can't be a smart strong women.  When boys are assertive, we make them managers and call them leaders.  The next time you see a girl being assertive, tell her she has "executive leadership skills."  She is not "bossy", she has the makings of a successful leader, and she needs to be recognized for that.
     I was a little girl who was told she was bossy.  I'm still told that I am bossy.  But, I see boys doing the same things: taking charge, being the lead on the lab project, organizing events; boys are expected to fill those roles, not me.  It's even more obvious in my engineering classes. In my systems dynamics lab, I often take lead in programming and setting up equipment.  But, when the other (male) lab groups need help, they go to my (male) lab partner before me.  Why?  They expect that the girl isn't the one who set up the oscilloscope and wrote the computer program.
    It's time for girls to take back what's theirs.  We have been misrepresented in the media and our image in culture is distorted.  It's time to go from misrepresented to Miss Represented.

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