I always thought I was a great role model for my 2 kids. An entrepreneur in tech, financially independent, sharing their care with my husband. Pretty awesome mum right? That turned out to be slightly wrong…..
At a certain point during diner, my oldest said to my husband: later when I grow up I also want to be in the military. There is nothing wrong with that obviously but still I was immediately raising my eyebrows surprised and asked: what do you think mummy does for a living? His answer: you are a princess. Well ok, not the answer that I expected but maybe in his mind a princess is a cool entrepreneur in tech trying to conquer the world. So my next question was: what do you think a princess does all day. His answer, although really sweet still sunk my heart for a bit: dance. Aside from the fact that I am a horrible dancer, there I was, a dancing princess. And it got worse. I left for a work trip with my suitcase and he said: happy holiday mum. Ok, so instead of being this awesome role model I thought I was I was a dancing princess going on holiday. Not the image I wanted them to have from me, let alone what I thought for a second how they saw me.
It made me think though. It is not weird they have no clue what I am doing. They see me behind my laptop, on my phone and leave the house with or without a suitcase. It made me realize that I needed to be much more explicit about what I am doing and a change in approach was needed.
Why? Especially in tech, female role models are extremely important. If she can see it she can be it. For girls, the lack of role models is a key reason not to pursue a career in tech. They need to see what being in tech means and what it could mean for them. And make no mistake, for tech to become diverse and inclusive it is equally important how we raise our boys. So while advocating for more women and girls in tech, aiming for more diversity and inclusion I got this one really wrong. We need to make sure that both boys and girls actually see what we do. What happens behind those laptops, on the phone and when you are away. We can’t assume they know.
My game plan? I started to talk more about what I do and since it felt almost impossible to explain I went for inventor with computers. That they understood and thought was really cool. And frequently, especially when I am on a work trip I make videos of what I do so they actually see. I talk to them about the things I do more regularly anyway and it works.
You can imagine I felt mission accomplished when after a while my oldest said to me: you are really smart he mum because you are an inventor. My youngest said and princess. And that is fine. As it turns out, you can be both.
Inventor and princess. Pretty awesome I would say.