My 5 year old daughter is inundated with a never ending stream of pro-STEM media aimed squarely at girls. Her Daddy is in a STEM field and constantly tries to get her interested. Guess what she wants to be when she grows up? A nurse and a ballerina. I no longer have the heart to tell her she should be focusing on STEM instead. If there’s anything I’ve learned so far in my STEM field career it’s that money ain’t everything and that jobs in STEM are just that — jobs. They’re no more important than blue collar jobs, caretaking jobs, service jobs, artistic jobs, or the ultimate job of being a homemaker. So I’ve decided to act as a counterweight to all this hysteria surrounding STEM and the push for women to enter into it. I make sure she doesn’t feel inferior or unjustified should she desire to pursue a field traditionally dominated women. I’m teaching her that the world doesn’t know what’s best for her; that she has to figure that out on her own. I want her to pursue the career that gives her the most meaning in her life, not the most money. So much of the messaging surrounding the Women in Tech movement is centered around wage inequality that it ends up conveying the deeply flawed assertion that the most important quality a career has is the money that can be made in from it.
I also make sure to regularly communicate to my wife how meaningful, important, and admirable her job as a homemaker is. In a world where the raising of our children is increasingly outsourced by overworked and overambitious parents, she is providing our girls with the level of care, attention, and enrichment only a she — their mother — can provide. If the world has to suffer from the lack of her STEM output then I consider that suffering justified. She does it with grace, pride, and ferocity despite the fact that very little attention or praise is heaped upon women who choose to forego professional careers in order to focus on their children.