Two recent ads tackle sexist stereotypes that contribute to a culture in which women are often seen as inferior. In the Pantene ad below, women are encouraged to stop apologizing for everything. This is a bad habit that I am guilty of, and I’ve been trying to curb it for years. Ram me in the supermarket with your cart, and I guarantee that I will automatically say, “I’m sorry.” I never realized excessive remorse was a vice primarily displayed by women, but being aware of the problem might help us all to think twice about giving the message that anything that goes wrong is our fault.
The second ad, from Always, gives a pretty powerful message about the phrase, “like a girl.” If you think about it, you will probably realize that those words are usually not uttered as a compliment. But they should be. It’s interesting to see in the commercial that the perceptions about “like a girl” seem to vary with age. I hope my daughter grows up to be as confident and assertive as the young lady in the blue dress near the end of the ad.
I bring these two examples to you because I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the need for more women in STEM fields. It’s important to recognize how deeply sexism infiltrates our society through the media and under-educated family and friends. Coincidentally, I saw a list of the 22 Most Powerful Women Engineers this week on Business Insider. I’m happy to see these women being honored in an article, but I hope that, one day, it won’t be so notable that there are 22 women who are capable of doing the same intellectually demanding job as men.