The Problem of the Missing Role Models
When I saw this tweet from the terrific kids’ show Sci Girls, about Kamala Harris, I thought, “Yes!” All people need to see themselves in books, movies, tv, and the real world, represented. No one likes to be left out, but more than that, if folks who look like you aren’t in the history books and the story books, you’ll naturally draw the conclusion that your people haven’t done anything important.
And of course you’d think that about women, because only 3% of educational materials include women.
Comedian Deborah Frances-White said this, “The reason that it seems like men are more remarkable is that their stories are told.”
When I was listening to her on a podcast at the gym (a while ago, pre-pandemic), I had to pause the exercise machine I was on, pause the podcast, and write that down. It’s stunning because it’s so obvious, and yet, no one had ever put it into words like that for me before.
How do we as parents deal with that? How do we make up the gap? I believe we must go out of our way to ensure that our kids have good and diverse role models. Every choice matters, the picture books we read to them when they’re little, the colors and types of toys we buy for them, and the toys we allow or disallow.
I’ve always thought of myself as doing a good job of this, but recently realized I could have been doing a better job. My kids are pretty well informed about women’s history, and women artists, since those are areas of interest of mine, but we really hadn’t covered enough Black history. I’ve been learning more, by listening to history related podcasts, but my kids weren’t getting that info.
We started to remedy that recently when the kids took an online class in Black history. We also watched Many Rivers to Cross, a PBS special that covers 500 years of Black history. It’s excellently done. That’s barely scratching the surface, but it’s a start.
Role models, this need we all have to see it to be it, is the heart of what we do here at Being Bold. We tell the stories of really interesting, amazing people, on the podcast and the blog, people we all should know about, but don’t.
Want to know which inventor built kites and sleds for all the kids in the neighborhood? Which one kept bees? Which inventor played with paper dolls as a kid? Which one built soap box cars and raced them? We love telling those stories in the blog, what inventors did as kids. They tinkered, they built, they played, they explored. They followed their curiosity and later, that led to their work as adults and their inventions.
The reason we started this company is because women were left out of the story. Out of the placemat, specifically. My daughter’s “Inventors of the World” placemat had only one woman on it and she asked me “Why? Why is there only one woman on this?” I told her not to worry, there were more women inventors, and I had the books to prove it. But she was still sad and didn’t cheer up until I said we could make our own placemat, of all women inventors! Representation matters.
It’s not like I’m trying to force my kids to grow up to be inventors, or vice-presidents, I want them to find their own paths. And I want them to know that they could be a vice-president, or president, or scientist, or inventor, if they want to be.
How We Can Help You Educate & Empower, with Ease
That’s what we’re all about! Making up for the part of the history curriculum that’s missing, and the fact that women are half the population, but not half of the characters in tv and movies (according to research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media), is a daunting task for parents. That’s where we come in. Where do you start? Who’s stories do you tell? I’m a research geek! I track these stories down and report on them for you. The official Being Bold illustrator, Betsy Zacsek and I sit down and hash out, who makes the cut? Who will she illustrate? It’s a really difficult decision!
We make it easier for you – each blog post on a person here on the Being Bold blog is written for kids. We’re recording more podcast episodes each month. And we’ve got posters, placemats and stickers of women inventors, and artists, coming soon, so that your kids will be immersed, just surrounded by these role models. If they’re curious, they can come over to the blog and learn more about that person on their placemat, or sticker.
Want to learn about one person a month? Our Sticker of the Month Club brings the stories and the stickers, right to your mailbox.
We invite you to use this blog to help you and your kids learn about interesting people who we all should know about, but don’t. We’ve curated a list for you, and made their stories into something manageable. We hope to be of service, and we hope you have fun with it! Check out our shop, Betsy’s illustrations are simply gorgeous. We’re surrounded by them at our house. Visit the Being Bold Shop and start your collection.
This post was originally published at BeingBold.me on December 4, 2020.