Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Projecting Gender?

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I was having a pleasant conversation yesterday with a semi-stranger but this morning, I found myself reflecting on something she said, and becoming increasingly disturbed by it. She was joking, but it still disturbed me.

She was talking about how her daughter was pretty, and (according to her description) not “into” academia, and so she’d just get her through some form of education and marry her off to some lucky man… But as for her son, she was debating what kind of education he deserved and saving money to be able to send him to study in the US.

The conversation flew by, but now that I think back on it, I wonder if the girl was just terribly unlucky. That because she was prettier than average, she was “categorized” into the bubblehead category, such that her own mother held low expectations of her. Do these things happen? That people expect little intellectual achievement from girls who are pretty, because they don’t “need” it? They’re pretty enough to catch a good man and make him happy … By their “prettiness”? What kind of happiness is that?

Deeply deeply disturbed now.

And wondering about the role education and educators can play in this. Would the girl’s math teachers have seen her as pretty, and assumed she could not possibly be good at math, and so decided not to invest too much effort with her, because, hey, she’s a pretty girl, she probably isn’t good at math, and doesn’t need it anyway?

I am projecting, of course. I don’t know that this happened. I am just wondering about it.

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