Changing the Mark for Female Excellence

I have literally just left the keynote at yet another state gifted conference.  I was excited for this keynote.  It was all about gifted girls and women.  I was a gifted girl, am raising a gifted girl, and am a gifted woman.  And while the speaker was engaging, passionate, and a decent speaker, I left the talk feeling disappointed.  <insert audio fx of wah, wah, wah here>

The talk started with a bunch of stats showing the low percentage of female ceo’s, government leaders, nobel prize winners, etc, etc, etc.  And while, yes, it’s important to have gifted female voices in all those realms, does achieving a proportional representation actually mean we’ve achieved a society in which the unique perspectives and contributions of gifted females are valued?

I’m a gifted female and I have absolutely no desire to be a ceo of a fortune 500 company.  I’ve never desired to hold political office and awards and accolades aren’t really my thing, either.  I do, however, have a desire to be valued in the field I choose and to have my field and all the other female-dominated fields, be honored and respected.

While I was preparing for graduation from university, my electrical engineering boyfriend was being offered salaries that were three times as high as the salaries I was being offered within the human services field.  And I had fit into the mold of success within undergrad, graduating summa cum laude with double majors and double minors and being admitted to all sorts of various honors societies.  But, because I chose a field that attracts more females than males, I was destined to earn 66% less than the guy who chose a male-dominated field.  I’m drawn to support people and relationships.  He was drawn to work with electronics and robots.  My field was devalued, his was valued, which is ironic because his field wouldn’t exist without healthy, supportive humans to work with the robots and electronics.

And yet, we continue to use the male-centric standards to determine whether or not we’re valuing female leadership.

We need to change the benchmark.

I will never meet the definition of “success” if we continue to define success so narrowly.

Yes, we want females who want to be ceo’s to have the opportunities, but to judge gender equality on this alone, is antiquated.

Let’s change the definition of success.  Let’s pay childcare workers more than we pay the people who mow our lawns.  Let’s create a society in which the names of outstanding teachers are as known as the names of fortune 500 ceos.  Let’s actually value women’s contributions within women-centric domains rather than rejoice when women fit in the male-centered world.