Today, May 26th, is Sally Ride Day, in honor of America’s first woman in space. In addition to flying twice on shuttle missions, earning both a masters and Ph.D. in physics, and serving on both shuttle disaster investigation panels (the only person to do that, by the way), Dr. Ride co-founded a company that creates science programs and books geared towards girls.
To say that Dr. Ride broke boundaries is an understatement.
I have a three-year-old daughter who loves Moana, sparkly nail polish, and princesses. She also loves trucks, machines, and watching football and it delights me to no end that she loves “boy” stuff just as much as “girl” stuff.
I’d love to say that I’m raising my daughter to not know boundaries, but here’s the thing: of course my daughter is going to know boundaries. One day, someone’s going to tell her that she can’t play with trucks. She’s going to encounter people who tell her she’s good “for a girl.”
As frustrating as that is to realize, my goal isn’t that she doesn’t encounter those people.
When she inevitably comes in contact with those who disapprove of the perceived inherent level of femininity in her activity or interest, I hope she rolls her eyes and goes about her business. I hope she’s confident enough in her interests to not be fazed by someone else’s disapproval.
So in honor of Sally Ride, and in honor of all the women who burst through boundaries in their field, encourage your girls.
Encourage them to try new, hard things.
Encourage them when they fail.
Encourage them to try the thing that your neighbor said is “just for boys.”
Encourage them to like the things they like, whether that’s trucks, sparkly dresses, or both.
Encourage them to be who they are.