Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekend Reading: The Changing Gender Roles Edition

So, apparently it is gender week here. I didn't plan it that way, but I am definitely enjoying reading your comments on yesterday's post.  Perhaps we will talk about something else next week, but it happens that all of my weekend reading links this week are also about gender, too.

First up, Bad Mom, Good Mom has an interesting post about gender specific math classes and how the girls-only algebra class became the de facto honors class- to the point that the parents of boys complained and there will now be a boys-only algebra class, too. I am a little bit uneasy with the gender-specific math class idea, but I can see how it can help combat some of the societal anti-math pressures on girls. Of course, I'd rather see those pressures go away, but that is unlikely to happen in time for my girls to take algebra, let alone in time for her daughter. So, in the spirit of embracing the imperfect solutions we have, I guess I'm OK with this. Although I do wonder why the school didn't just make a real honors math track, instead of having the gender-specific classes become the de facto one. And given the impact of selection bias pointed out in BMGM's post, would the outcome be different?

Next, here is a slick website aimed at starting discussions about changing gender roles. I found it via @Mom101's twitter feed, and I notice that her working mother post that I referenced in one of my early weekend reading posts is reposted there. It is a site that I'll keep my eye on, I think.

And finally, my husband sent me a link to Sissy's Magic Ponycorn Adventure game. It was created by a 5 year old girl, working with her father at a game jam. Read the back story- it is pretty cool, if you ask me. Who says little girls don't like computer games? This one does, but she's populated it with rainbows and "ponycorns" (which are pony-unicorns).

Which just goes to show you that we really don't know what gender roles will look like if we ever get to the place where we stop expecting those interests to cluster in predictable ways.


  1. Hmm...I think I would have loved the idea of a girls-only math class in high school. At that age, the boys tended to dominate everything, and therefore got the most attention. I could see how having that disappear could really help girls thrive.

    I agree it's not a perfect solution, but it's a good one for now, right? (I just love that quote you had a couple days ago --- I might print it up, frame it, and put it up in my office!).

  2. Anonymous5:32 PM

    @cloud re: tweet about napping

    It is a fundamental truth that smart kids don't nap as much. Why is unknown. But it's in all the gifted books.

    I do notice that my son is more likely to nap when he's had a lot of stimulation. He is napping right now for the first time in memory... we went into the city, spent time with his favorite aunt, hit Chinatown, walked all over the place, saw and tasted things he'd never experienced before... and he actually fell asleep.

    My pet theory is that if you give kids enough stimulation and exposure to new things, they need to nap so their brains can process the new stuff. With smart kids, less stuff is new and novel, so they spend more time go-go-going. Naps are more prevalent at daycare because they're getting more exercise and more exposure to new things, even if just hanging with other interesting kids. Plus there's the peer pressure of naptime and the same stimulus being used over and over again.

    I also have a pet theory that with these super-active kids it is much more difficult to be a SAHM. Folks who judge about that (and I have met some IRL) have no idea what it's like because their kids didn't stop sleeping during the day at 18 months. They get breaks! And it's not because we didn't sleep train well enough, it's because our kids just naturally need less sleep.

  3. @nicoleandmaggie, I like the theory about smart kids! And it fits with what my understanding about how sleep is used in the brain (to consolidate memories- so more things to remember should equal more sleep, right?)

    I'm just struggling to accept that my baby who was good at napping is turning into a toddler who isn't so good at it. I gave up a long time ago on the preschooler. Who, weirdly, has started napping at home from time to time again. Must be some sort of developmental spurt going on.

    Oh, and I REALLY needed a nap today. Instead, I got an hour long walk. At least it was a beautiful day with a nice cool breeze blowing up from the water.

  4. Sissy's Magic Ponycorn Adventure Game = genius!! And I love the backstory. ;)

  5. In college, I took a female-only weight-lifting class. It was taught by two guys, but it was such a different environment than just going into the gym and having a bunch of guys wanting to "help" you or simply watch you. I took it with my roommate, and it was such a great way to learn how to really lift weights in ways that were appropriate for the female body, accounting for the physiological differences.

    Normally, I don't like the "separate but equal" approach to, well, anything. But my experience in a female-only class for something that was typically dominated by men gave me the confidence to walk into the gym and go straight for the weights, not worrying that I was doing it wrong or that I couldn't handle it without some guy helping.

    In high school, I also had a group of friends who went to a girls only private school, and I the majority of girls had the same kind of experience that I did in the female-only class. It boosted their confidence and they were able to then transition to college without worrying about typical gender concerns.

    @nicoleandmaggie - I am also behind your theory, though I'm hesitant to use the term "smart kid" I know what you mean. My 4 year old has always needed less and stopped napping at an early age. We have described it as the fact that she her brain just doesn't stop going, much like my husband. She takes in a lot of information very quickly, and she gets bored and distracted easily, too. So I'm totally with you re: "less stuff is new and novel, so they spend more time go-go-going." That seems spot on for my girl, too.

  6. Hey, I'm catching up on blogs and just read a post by AfterWords in which she posts a song that is perfect to share on your post:

    I know I'm PMSing, but it made me cry. Not because I remembered when I was a boy, which I did, but more because of my kids. They are not going to keep their lack of unconcern over what societal norms are for genders, and they will adjust accordingly. But I will miss their free expressions of enjoyment. *sniff*


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