“I want to be a scissor,” Liron responded when asked what she thought she might want to be when she grows up. A scissor? Well, she was flipping through a “Dora the Explorer” notebook at the time and Dora uses a scissor in another book to solve a problem.
“Interesting,” said I, the market researcher. Later at dinner I probed further …
- Me: Will you be a scissor or will you have a scissor?
- She: I will have a scissor.
- Will you have one scissor or many?
- She: Many.
- Me: Will you cut things? Or will other people?
- She: Other people.
- Me: Will you be their boss?
- She: Yes.
- Me: Interesting. will this be a scissor factory?
- She: Yes.
- Me: In what country will your factory be?
- She: Where they make paper.
- Me: So your factory will be in a country where paper is made. In your factory they will cut paper?
- She: Yes.
- Me: What kind of things will be cut out of paper?
- She: TRIANGLES! (proceeds to wax poetic about triangles, her favorite shape).
Sure, the inspiration for this conversation came after I read the first 50 pages of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I’m getting a lot of out of this book and I really enjoy not only her very relevant personal anecdotes, but the use of some pretty eye-opening data to prove her point. And oftentimes the point is, women hold themselves back. And we teach little girls to hold themselves back – even when unintentional. Do we encourage our girls to show leadership qualities, even in the littlest things? I need to look at this … Do we baby them and tell them they’re “so cute” much more than we do boys – thereby teaching them cute, flirty, dainty behaviors will get them what they want and need rather than – set a goal and go get it? I might be guilty here … And what kind of behavior am I modeling in my approach to life and my career? This is important – someone is watching and learning …
Sheryl (Sandberg), Marissa (Mayer), and Anne-Marie (Slaughter) are just three of many women who bring up, or at the very least demonstrate interesting points on gender and its role in the workplace. I’m grateful to all of you who participate in these conversations.
And as for Liron’s scissor factory … I think Sheryl Sandberg would tell her to identify an unmet need in the market and go for it – to let her passion lead her into something exciting and rewarding, and to not let fear get in her way. And I, as her mother would remind her all along that nobody could take her scissor dream away, or run her factory better, if even if he’s a man.
And I will only briefly allude to the Freudian “scissor” assumption …