Unlike mathematical equations, gender stereotyping has a less definite answer.
AN episode from when my daughter was in preschool still remains vivid in my mind.
She came home from school and told me that one of her teachers commented during play time that girls should play with dolls and boys should play with cars. I was incensed. It took every ounce of self-restraint to keep me from marching into the classroom and confronting the teacher who made the comment.
Perhaps this can be attributed to my upbringing. Growing up, I was never told what I could or could not do “because I’m a girl”.
I could play with my Barbie dolls one day, and die-cast cars the next. I was never made to buy a pink school bag if I preferred a blue one. And when I said I wanted to go racing, nobody stopped me “because I’m a girl”.
Of course, coming from a family of car enthusiasts helped.
I grew up with cars because they were my dad’s passion. I was exposed to different types and makes of cars from a young age. Many a weekend was spent at Pasir Gudang, and road trips were always on the calendar come long weekends and school vacations.
When I selected a course of study at university, my choice came as no surprise to family and close friends. Even though the majority of students in my cohort were female, Architecture was still perceived to be a male-dominated field and many still had the mentality that a construction site is no place for a girl.
This woman knows how to work the steering wheel and everything else on the dashboard – so buzz off, condescending car salesman.
One opinion that I found extremely amusing was that because Architecture is such a long course, I would graduate at an older age than my peers, thus leaving me with less time to find a partner, so I had better find one while in uni.
Indeed, a handful of my course mates did pair off, eventually tying the knot. This must be a common advice dished out to medical students, too, because I know quite a few couples who are both doctors.
I have made many gender- defying choices, not because I have something to prove, but because this is who I am, this is what I want. And I have been fortunate to be able to pursue the things that I love, without qualms or objections from people whose prejudices make them think otherwise.
However, it still annoys me when people automatically assume that you know nothing about cars because you are a female.
If I walked into a car showroom, I have a feeling that I may get recommended an MPV over a coupe. Salespeople who start showing me where the start/stop button is or telling me that the indicator stalk is on the left, they earn their well-deserved spot at the top of my blacklist.
Driving on the roads is where such gender stereotypes are extremely apparent. There are poor male drivers as there are lousy female drivers, but the latter have it much worse than their male counterparts, earning condescending labels such as “kayu lady driver”.
While the hardware in terms of laws and policies currently in place seems to respect gender equality, it would take some time yet for the software to fully catch up.
LYNN IS THE FANTASTIC OPPOSITE OF A KAYU LADY DRIVER – SHE IS A GARANG LADY DRIVER.
IT STILL ANNOYS ME WHEN PEOPLE AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT CARS BECAUSE YOU ARE A FEMALE.