My first job, where I earned a paycheck, was at a Dunkin’ Donuts. I was 16 years old. My sisters and I were expected to land a job when we reached that employable age. Having little choice, we did. Independence was the upside. Freedom from parental overlords was worth the price of embarrassment over the pink tiara-like headpiece of my uniform that I was required to wear. My own bank account was worth suppressing the gag reflex while watching customers insert their tongues into the sugary confections to extract a dollop of jam or whipped cream or, worst of all, custard as I refilled their coffee.
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Summers during college I worked at a tank factory. You know, the armored vehicles they ship to war. I typed up technical documents for the engineers, all male, by the way. But everyday, on our trek to the cafeteria, the office workers filed past half a dozen, not yet painted, gunmetal gray tanks. Naïve, and living in my head, the impact of what those vehicles were built for didn’t often break the surface. The U.S. was not at war at the time, and for a small town college student the job paid relatively well.
Though my father’s parenting skills lacked a certain finesse, I would venture to say that he instilled in us the value of earned independence, and the value of a varied work experience. Four of us graduated from college. Our parents covered the tuition. We worked to pay living expenses. One of my sisters who did not attend college enjoys a successful career as Manager of a worldwide distribution center.
My father desired a comfortable retirement. He earned it, and he got it.
Why are so many kids moving in with their parents upon graduation?
I know a father with a 20-year old son living at home. Nothing is required of him. His father bought him a car and a Smartphone, and pays his credit card bills. His father is a successful, licensed therapist with a Masters Degree in Psychology.
I know a mother with an 11-year old who has yet to be assigned a single chore. The mother says, “It’s easier if I do it myself. It takes her too long to complete the simplest task.”
A college student asks his professor what will be on the final exam. The professor answers that she doesn’t teach anything not worth learning.
Today, boys shy away from engineering degrees correlating the “nerd” label with diminished opportunities for getting laid.
Girls shy away from science and engineering degrees because they’re, well, girls.
An engineer is an artist, an artist an engineer.
An intelligent young woman I know, currently unemployed, has a five-figure debt load, and a university degree in History. A guidance counselor might have steered her toward a degree she might actually use. Or, optimistically, she might become the next Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Is it really that “hip” to take an unpaid internship for a cash heavy corporation? Or earn $12/hour selling iPads for Apple, the richest corporation in the world?
Or we might choose to remind ourselves that Mick Jagger once sold ice cream; Joseph Conrad was a gunrunner; Amy Adams, the movie actress, was a Hooters girl.
But also, that Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, and Virginia Rommetty, big wigs in major corporations, no matter how you feel about those corporations, hold advance degrees in Economics, Science and Engineering.
Check out this 1-minute video, Science It’s a Girl Thing, fashioned by the European Commission to attract young women to enter the Sciences. What does it say? It’s ok for hot babes to be “brainy?” Earn a Science degree and you’ll snag a man? Science is a better lipstick? I have mixed feelings about it. But, it’s a start. What do you think?
Here is Science author J.J. Brown with her opinion of the Science It’s A Girl Thing video. You may be surprised by what she has to say.
Supporting elementary to college guidance by way of school counselors, or any adult in the room is, as Wilford Brimley put it so succinctly in his oatmeal commercial, It’s the Right Thing to Do!