Education vs. Stereotypes

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Photo credit: DFATD | MAECD / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

It is true, time has changed. If we compare those years when women did not have the right to vote or access to education to our current situation, we can say mission accomplished, we are done! But the reality is different and there’s still a lot to be done.

First, a question for women living in a society with equal rights and no gender discrimination; how many times has someone called you selfish because you want to study and grow professionally? Well, I will have to raise my hand.

Since high school, I always wanted to study abroad. I also suffer from what some people call wanderlust.  So when I was offered a job in British Virgin Islands, I took it without hesitation.   It was the perfect treatment for my wanderlust and an excellent opportunity for my career.

I did not receive many negative comments regarding my decision. I few people asked why do I have to move? Are you ready to live alone? Honestly nothing too dramatic.

I was twenty something at the time, things changed a little bit when I turned 30, the questions were more family related, are you planning to have a family, what about a husband? which I found absolutely ridiculous.

After years living abroad, I decided it was time to follow that dream from high school. About two years ago I started the process, it is a long period just for planning, but I needed time to find the right school, scholarships and most importantly, to be emotionally prepared to get out of my comfort zone.

One day, during a casual conversation with a friend, I shared what for me was amazing news, I was admitted to a Master program, I was finally moving to the United States to study.

His reaction was shocking! The first question, another degree why? What for? I couldn’t believe that someone was actually questioning my decision of pursuing a Master’s Degree. In this competitive world you can’t stop, that does not mean you need 10 Masters and 5 PhD, but you have to study, go to seminars, get some certifications; whatever applies to your career.

I thought, well maybe he is surprised because we work in different fields, I don’t know. I was trying to understand and then he said “well I guess you do not want a family”, “your partner and your relationship are not your priority”. Oh boy!!!! That was it! Yes, some women do not want a family just as some men do not want to get married but this has nothing to do with having a career, these are choices in life.

I was so mad, it is not the first time I hear the dilemma between family and career, which by the way, does not make any sense. I am so sick and tired of the stereotype that a professional woman equals lonely woman who does not want or does not deserve to have a family.

I will never say such a strong statement to anybody, woman or man, who wants to improve her or his career.

Everybody is free to live their lives in the way they want without affecting third parties, why a woman who wants to grow professionally, who wants to study has to be seen as selfish? I said to myself, maybe he is living in the Mad Men era, who knows.

I am of the opinion that getting educated is a great proof of love to your family, to your partner and to yourself.

For those who are married, usually a better job means an increase of income, which will benefit the entire family, Am I correct? Education is one of the requirements to obtain a good job.

Also, we are individuals outside our relationships, a person with dreams, interests, and hobbies. It is not about which one goes first, I don’t believe that is a healthy approach. The idea is to have a balanced life, if you have to crush your dreams and aspirations what kind of life are you living?

Let’s open our minds, the stereotype that a professional or educated woman equals to a selfish person  who does not want or deserve a family, is far from reality. Stop asking those questions about family, which one is more important, marriage or career? Start supporting your partner, your daughter, your mom or your sister. Keep in mind,  society needs  women’s involvement  in so many aspects.

For those women who do not care about stereotypes, let’s continue our journey. There are little girls around the world fighting to get education, we must appreciate the opportunity we have and keep showing by example all the wonderful things women can do!

Have you ever experienced something similar? Leave your comments and thoughts.

P.S.  Below some links with information about girls and education, also I would like to recommend a documentary called Girl Rising  (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2444946/)  

http://www.ungei.org/whatisungei/index_211.html

http://plan-international.org/girls/reports-and-publications/the-state-of-the-worlds-girls-2014.php?lang=es

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/opinion/global/girls-who-risk-their-lives-for-education.html?_r=0

http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/GMR/images/2011/girls-factsheet-en.pdf

http://girlrising.pearsonfoundation.org/downloads/GR_Curriculum_Resources_STATISTICS.pdf?pdf=GR_Curriculum_Resources_STATISTICS