Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who Can Be President?

As our nation celebrates the election of our first African-American President, I'm very aware of the deep symbolism this historic event holds. Senator McCain and President Bush, among many others, acknowledged the importance of seeing the highest African-American glass ceiling shattered. It's important to adults, but even more important to children.

Children see the entire world through the lens of their individual experiences. Now that Barack Obama will be Mr. President, kids will quickly see that as "normal." There's nothing like reality to change a child's worldview. How wonderful!

A recent message from our friends at The White House Project explains further:

With so many glass ceilings shattered, we take for granted that little
girls know they can grow up to be whatever they want. But according to a new
study, one in four children believes it is illegal for women and minorities to
hold the office of president. And one in three attribute the lack of female,
African-American and Latino presidents to racial and gender bias among voters.

The same study also found that girls who attributed the lack of female
presidents to discrimination were more likely to report that they could not
really become president, even if they were interested in doing so. "[Children]
have seen [the Presidents] all over the media, on posters, in classroom history
books," said author of the study Rebecca
in an interview, "yet no one ever explains to them why they have all
been white men. There is never a conversation about that so children start to
come up with their own explanations."

Today is the perfect time to start that conversation with the girl in your
life. The 2008 election has the potential to significantly alter children's
views and presents an excellent opportunity for parents to educate their
children on gender and racial discrimination as well.

Yes, yes, yes! I don't think the gender glass ceiling will be shattered until we have a woman elected president. If we want girls and boys to truly know that women can be presidents, we will need to elect one. Fittingly, as Malia and Sasha get ready to move into the White House with their parents, there's all the more reason to redouble our efforts to get women into the pipeline to the presidency and help all Americans think of a woman president as "normal."

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