My Daughter’s Non-Traditional Halloween Costume

12 comments

I’m a feminist. I know that term gets a bad rap but to me, feminism isn’t about what choice you make, it’s about having choices. I believe men and women should be equal, it’s really as basic as that.

So when my daughter decided to dress up as an electrician for Halloween this year, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. While I would have supported whatever choice she made for her costume, I just loved that she choose something non-traditional. When we went trick or treating at our local Whole Foods (they had a fun event for kids) and she walked around wearing her hard hat, safety goggles and toolbelt, I had a big goofy grin the entire time. She was so excited about her costume choice and had no idea that girls aren’t really encouraged in our society to go into a trade. She was just proud to dress up like daddy (my hubby is an electrician) and even told her daycare provider the other day that not only did she want to dress up as an electrician for Halloween but she wants to be one when she grows up. {swoon}

Wouldn’t it be absolutely lovely if she could grow up believing she could go into a non-traditional field and not face any barriers?

Sadly, that’s not the case right now. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (yes I did my research!) there are 7,453 male electricians in Connecticut. You know how many female electricians there are in the state? Forty-three. That means that out of the total number of electricians in CT, only .5% are women.

There are many reasons girls don’t go into non-traditional fields but I think the main reasons are that (1) girls are not encouraged to even consider a skilled-trade, (2) girls get messages from society that math & science are things boys are better at and (3) the trades seem to be a good-old boys network and there’s a lot of derogatory talk about women among employees (not to mention there are issues with sexual harassment). Of course, I’m saying this in very general terms. I do think we are making great strides in breaking down this idea that math is a boy thing and there are efforts in CT to encourage more girls to become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). Particularly, I love that the CT Women’s Education & Legal Fund has a specific program called G2O aimed at inspiring & mentoring girls interested in STEM fields.

I, for one, believe that if a young woman wants to go into a non-traditional career she should receive support and encouragement. Non-traditional jobs pay good wages and can provide a wonderful level of economic security. I look forward to the day that our girls can grow up knowing that they really can choose whatever career they want without having to fight through outdated, sexist barriers. Maybe someday we won’t even need the term “non-traditional.”

My little electrician!
My little electrician!

12 comments on “My Daughter’s Non-Traditional Halloween Costume”

  1. “The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir famously states that “one is not born a woman, but becomes one.” What she means is that none of us enters the world with an instinctive understanding of what being a woman means. We gather this understanding gradually, through being immersed in a cultural environment that holds particular views about men and women. We begin to learn how to correctly “perform” our gender well before we learn to speak. By the time we are adolescents, the codes of appropriate femininity are so deeply ingrained, so automatic, that we consider them as innate. We don’t recognize them as cultural constructs, but rather take them to be an accurate reflection of our “nature”; they are simply who we “are.”

    Ruti, Mari (2011-02-01). Case for Falling in Love: Why We Can’t Master the Madness of Love — and Why That’s the Best Part (p. 58). Sourcebooks. Kindle Edition.

  2. My father would have preferred I was an electrician, I’m quite sure! (He was a contractor, my brother is a plumber.) Great costume, and who knows? Maybe she’ll save you guys a ton of money in labor one day once she’s in the trades!

  3. She is so stinking cute. Breaking down one barrier at a time – we’ll get there, with the help of our children 🙂

  4. I work for a national association for electricians, and we do a lot to encourage women and young people to enter into a trade. While there are gender biases about being in the trades, young people in general are not choosing them as much either. It’s a highly skilled field with steady work, good pay, and yet somehow an expensive college degree with few job prospects is being pushed as the answer for everyone. I think your daughter would make a great electrician!

    1. Thank you for your comment Debbie! I love that you’re doing so much to encourage women and young people to go into the trades. It definitely seems like these days people don’t even consider a skilled trade because they feel they need to get a college degree but the reality is the trades provide for a very good quality of life, without the price tag of a 4 year degree. Thanks for your comment and support!

  5. Oh my gosh she’s as cute as they come! I hope that by the time she’s able to make a decision whether or not to be an electrician, she’ll have more same gender peers to be there, helping navigate the road less travelled, one very small step at a time!

  6. Adorable! It’s so wonderful to see kids free to choose whatever they’d like to be rather than hearing “these are the boy choices and these are the girl choices.” Also…FORTY THREE?! That is insanity. Wow. Personally, I agree that girls are pushed toward the humanities while boys are pushed toward science and math, but I also think it can be intimidating to enter a profession where everyone else is a different gender, you know? Kind of how there’s the stigma for male nurses (not that there should be!!). I think it takes moms of girls who teach them they can chose whatever profession makes them happy and moms of boys who teach them the same thing, along with impressing upon them that they need to make everyone feel welcome in their workplace regardless of gender!

    1. I know, 43!! I mean I knew it would be low but that’s pretty freaking low! I totally agree with you that it’s also intimidating to go into a profession where most of the people you work with are of a different gender. I think that’s why mentoring is so important in these non-traditional fields. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  7. She looks so adorable!!!

    I’m not sure how girls/boys fall into gender stereotypes – I’m all about exposing my twins to the same thing – my girl used to wear all her brother’s hand-me-downs (as infants, he was a size ahead of her which meant we could recycle), and I buy mostly neutral toys. And yet, SOMEHOW and much to my dismay because I am NOT frilly, my girl has grativated towards princesses, frills, purple and pink, ballerinas. And somehow, my boy is OBSESSED with trains and buses (and she has zero interest in it despite being VERY exposed to it). Perhaps there are some innate tendencies that might dictate these types of preferences… don’t really know.

    In any case, there are some obvious physical limitations to some trades which I think creates barriers towards having women go into these so-called “non traditional” fields; basic muscle strength being one of those limitations. While some women may be just as strong as some men, the fact of life is that most women tend on average to be smaller and “daintier” than their male counterparts.

    Anyway, this is a great and important post. I agree that it would be awesome to see these barriers broken down!

    1. Thank you for always commenting on my posts Vivian! I so appreciate that. I agree, there probably are some limitations physically in the trades but overall I think the other factors (societal gender stereotyping, lack of encouragement and lack of female role models) are the greatest barriers. Electrical is probably one of the least physically demanding trades (which is one of the reasons my hubs likes it) and yet women are still only .5%. How nuts is that?? You know what’s cool that I think you’ll appreciate? When I drive to work every day I see the construction crews that are working on the Putnam Bridge and there’s a woman that works right alongside the men, carrying heavy stuff and everything. I smile every day when I see her!

Share Some Comment Love

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s