“We don’t like Donald Trump!” says my four year old when she sees his picture in the paper. Her two year old sister mimics. They use the same voice as “We don’t like White Castle!” so I know they mean it. They mean, of course, that I don’t like those things. I’ve tried to raise them to be more conscious and involved than I was. The girls have been active in politics and social justice issues as long as they can remember – canvassing, drawing pictures for refugees, and tagging along to meetings and rallies. For them, that’s normal.
Last year, my girls knocked on doors for two successful Emerge alumnae. They saw a woman run for president. They see female teachers and a principal. Both their pediatrician and their dentist are women. Their mama is an actuary. That is their world, which I have painted for them. I have surrounded them with powerful female role models and ensured their toys and books show them possibilities rather than limits.
They don’t know that this isn’t always my world. I am in a male-dominated career and am often asked who takes care of the girls while I travel (their father!). I don’t tell them about the performance reviews I’ve received that I am too confident and come on too strong. They don’t know that only 21% of the US Senators and 19% of Representatives are female. Today, 8% of governors are female. Nationwide, women make up just 25% of state legislators. My daughters don’t know today’s world is still a man’s world.
Emerge is working to be the change, and that is why I am excited to be part of Emerge Kentucky’s Class of 2017. Little girls have big dreams. That American dream should not be a fantasy. By my actions, by being involved, by supporting women, the girls learn that they can be anything, do anything. Even, that is, make a difference. For them, that’s normal.