It’s International Women’s Day which means not only are we celebrating women, but we are also having conversations that educate and explore what it means to be a woman and to be equal in today’s society. So we’ve taken some of the biggest myths you’ve heard about women and showing why they’re nothing more than unhelpful stereotypes.
Women cannot be mothers and have a successful career
It’s been said time and time again that you ‘can’t have it all’ when it comes to excelling in your career and being a good mother. There are so many honest accounts of what being a working mother is like, and it is not an easy feat whatsoever, but for many women this is simply a daily reality. Yes, they have chosen to have children, but that doesn’t mean their career ambitions have dimmed. The working world can be a cruel place for working mothers, but considering that 73.7% of mothers work in the UK it can no longer be said that women have to pick. There are, of course, other obstacles to overcome such as unfair treatment of mothers returning to work, but things such as flexible working and shared parental leave are taking steps to ensure this happens less and less.
One of the true icons who has made this work is none other than Serena Williams. Not only did she win the Australian Open whilst pregnant, but she came back after giving birth to win a grand slam when many thought she couldn’t.
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As I head into next year it’s not about what we can do it’s what we MUST do as working moms and working dads. Anything is possible. I am getting ready for the first match of the year and my dear sweet baby @olympiaohanian was tired and sad and simply needed mama’s love. So if it means warming up and stretching while holding my baby that’s what #thismama will do. My fellow moms and dads working- or stay home it’s equally as intense- but you inspire me. Hearing your stories makes me know I can do this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This year is to you! What are some things you had to do while working? #thismama #thisdaddy
Women's empowerment comes at the expense of men
For as long as feminism has existed, society seems to be perplexed again and again when it’s suggested that men should, too, be feminists in order to redress the inequality faced by females. And despite what people will have you believe, it’s not just those red-faced men replying anonymously to feminist tweets online that believe society is ‘letting the women take over.’ The fear that empowering women comes at the expense of men is one that pervades the society we live in.
However, we can all take a leaf out of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s book, when it comes to this subject. Trudeau states that feminism ‘[is] the knowledge that when we are all equal, all of us are more free.’ In saying this, Trudeau alludes to the fact that limitations placed on society based on their gender, limits everyone. Not only will breaking down constraints placed on women benefit them, but it will also lift the shackles placed on men, including the need to display masculine traits such as being violent and not crying or showing any emotions.
In fact, the empowerment of women is way more tangible than you may have originally thought. According to Financial News, bringing women’s labour force participation up to the same level as that of men would boost GDP by as much as 9% in Japan and 27% in India, which would benefit both men and women.
Women aren’t good at maths and science
At school, you may have heard the above phrase, as I did, and be completely baffled when it was banded around. Afterall, I was surrounded by competent female science and maths teachers and I, and many more of my female peers, were excelling in these subjects.
However, according to STEM graduates (science, technology, engineering and maths) only 13% of the overall UK STEM workforce are women, which means that this widely held belief may be preventing women from entering into STEM careers. Research into why women are not going into STEM professions all point to cultural and environmental barriers placed in front of women. One of these barriers is society’s bias against women in this field. Researchers found when asked to evaluate identical CV’s within a science faculty, scientists were way more likely to hire the male counterpart and, in addition to that, were more likely to offer higher pay and more mentoring opportunities. These biases, mixed with the fact that girls are not pushed to study STEM subjects, is responsible for this gap.
However, here are some amazing female scientists to help you knock those preconceptions out of your head!
*Mary-Claire King: proved humans and chimpanzees share 99% of the same genes, and discovered the BRCA Gene, proving that breast cancer can be inherited. *Katherine Johnson: Known as the ‘human computer’ at NASA, calculated how to send astronauts into space. *Vera Rubin: American astronomer who discovered dark matter in galaxies. Her pioneering research indicated that 90% of the universe’s mass has never been seen. *Rosalind Franklin: She discovered the structure of DNA
If you want to see some more amazing women in this field click here!
Women don’t support other women
This highly annoying trope is one that we’ve seen time and time again! From pitting the two biggest female rappers against each other from the get-go, to the click-bait headlines trying to stir up a rivalry between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, the story that women have the inability to get along with or work with other females is a storyline that media outlets have been plugging for years.
Although this narrative might be the one that grabs the headlines, there are so many examples of women banding together to create change in the world. Not only has the last few years seen women band together for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, but women have turned up in full force at rallies and protests to support other women affected by issues such as sexual harassment and period poverty, as well as setting up campaigns to support less fortunate women!
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We are the daughters of activists like Dolores Huerta, Clara Luper, Rose Schneiderman, Marsha P. Johnson, Wilma Mankiller, and Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga. In their names, on their shoulders, we continue moving forward as a #WomensWave. Our sisterhood is sacred and we must continue to fight for ALL women’s issues, whether they impact all of us or not. #WomensMarch2019 📸@kishabari . . . IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A photo of an Indigenous contingent at the 2019 Women’s March on Washington marching behind a banner reading “Sisterhood is Sacred”
We’ve also seen prominent female celebs using their platform to support their peers. Last year, Octavia Spencer revealed that Jessica Chastain helped her to secure a salary of five times more than what she was originally offered for a film the two were working on together, after Spencer pointed out that women of colour earn less for the same parts as white women.
So there you have it folks. Think twice the next time one of these myths pops into your head or use these examples as a way to dismantle these ideas when others try to perpetuate these myths!
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