Role Models

There seems to be a lot of talk at the moment about how to ensure a moral upbringing for the current generation of children, and a growing number of commentators are starting to notice how parents seem to be left out of this discussion.

Among all the discussion over internet censorship, Charles Arthur was one of the first to pen an utterly compelling argument as to why giving ISPs the power to switch off ‘adult’ content would be both pointless and would be placing the responsibility on the wrong person, essentially making the point that it is parents who should be responsible for what their children see online.

Granted, it is not always that simple but it is surprising that so many initiatives for children seem to assume parents have no and can have no responsibility. Maybe it’s chicken and egg.  Did parents get lazy so the government had to step in, or did the government step in which led parents to get lazy. (I shall not expand that to its wider political implications!).

A recent study from Girl Guiding UK called Girls Attitudes Explored… Role Models found that 55 per cent of girls felt there aren’t enough female role models.  What I found sad however was that they said this despite also saying that mums were their top role model. I just wonder at what point we stopped finding our mothers (and aunties, and sisters etc) adequate role models.

Some girls just don’t have those people in the first place. Rachel Ward Lilley who runs Girls Out Loud, a social enterprise for raising the aspirations of teenage girls, says “All girls need role models. Some of us are lucky enough to get these informally with support from family and friends but many don’t.”

But even for those who do, sometimes it is just a case of wanting to know what else is out there, says Rachel.

“We often find when we are with the girls that they have very little knowledge about careers and certainly not in detail – sterotypes are frequently the norm – for example lawyers are all like the ones on TV, predominantly male, old and wear gowns.  When we had some young cool and trendy lawyers involved in a Discovery Day programme in Leeds last year the girls initially found it difficult to believe they were what they said, but once they did they all decided they wanted to be like them – we had a room full of would be lawyers.”

There are certain types of role models such as actors, journalists and writers who are more naturally in the spotlight for girls to look up to.  But there seems to be a desperate need to expose these girls to a far wider range of life and career choices that aren’t so obviously visible.  As Rachel points out “I believe in the saying that ‘it is difficult to be what you can’t see’.”


Thumbnail image: Nandadevieast on Flickr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *