re: Kids Day @ Work

Constance J Ostrowski (
Mon, 13 May 1996 10:47:31 -0400

Apparently my first attempt to post to the list didn't make it, but for
anyone receiving this as a duplicate, my apologies.

In response to the post that referred to a woman's account of her 5 year
old son's perception that only women are doctors:

I just asked my 6 year old son if all doctors are women, and he said "No,"
with a look that suggested that I'd asked a dumb question. Here are his
experiences with doctors: his pediatrician is a woman (and he's seen her
many, many times due to allergies and more strep and ear infections than
the norm), as were the psychologists he's had to see in the context of a
protracted custody case (one to help him counteract the effects of a
custodial interference abduction); his dentist is a man.

Why does my son not believe that all doctors are women? Maybe partly
because his dentist is a man(though I know that some differentiate
between "real" doctors and dentists); maybe partly because he's a sharp
kid; and maybe partly because we *talk* about issues. The woman who
reported that her 5 year old son believed that all doctors are women
had in that instance a perfect chance to talk to her son. (I would want
to ask her, had I the chance, whether they'd ever taken the cat to a vet,
and whether that vet was a man or a woman--though, again, I realize that
some differentiate "real" doctors from vets as well.)

Our children's experiences are not restricted to the people and situations
they encounter: their experiences--and perhaps their most important
experiences--include their discussions with us (we who are their parents,
but also we who are their teachers and friends). To the extent that we
either reinforce mistaken perceptions and biased attitudes, or modify
and correct perceptions and attitudes, we have a profound influence on
the way that children see themselves, their choices, their position in
society, and other people.

I would also like to suggest that a 5 year old, who may not yet have
acquired the ability to realize that one or two people do not constitute
*all* people (though there is enough evidence around us to make clear
that many adults suffer from overgeneralization--including many politicians),
is not the best example to use to try to argue that boys feel that their
career options are limited, or that bias exists against them.

Connie Ostrowski

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