I took our daughter to London’s Science Museum. It’s one of those places that we had always intended to take her to repeatedly. Knowing that many girls are dissuaded from an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing), the Science Museum was going to be a key way to encourage it.
Well, we finally got round to it – motivated by knowing our chances to do this mid-week term time were lessening every day. Soon she’ll be at school and we’ll be locked into the holiday/weekend museum crush.
The visit was good, though she was initially a little dazed by it all. As we walked in the large, exhibit filled entrance hall, she looked around dazzled, exclaiming “I don’t know what any of these things are!” In the next few hours, I tried my best to help with that.
But the best bit happened at one of the many demonstrations they hold there. I had heard a friend of our daughter’s talked excitedly about the ‘Bubble Show’, so when I saw it listed I made sure we went along.
My daughter, like many of her age, is not one to commonly answer questions from adults. She tends to be better with familiar faces, and how tired she is also has an impact. But generally her default is the same as many other pre-schoolers, in not wanting to engage when asked a question.
So when we went to the Bubble Show (a workshop about bubbles – yes, it was as much fun as it sounds), and the demonstrator asked the audience ‘What are the two main ingredients for bubble mixture?’, I was very surprised when her hand shot up.
I was disappointed when another child was called on to answer, who correctly said “Water”. I figured that was that. Yet, when bubble man asked what the second ingredient was, my daughter’s hand remained up, and this time she was called upon to answer.
“Soap” she replied.
“Correct!” said the Bubble Man, “Everyone give her a round of applause!”
They did, and my daughter was beaming from ear to ear – as was I.
For me, the fact she got the answer right had little to do with how happy it made me (she learned that it was soap from a Peppa Pig episode – which is really annoying because I can’t stand that show).
I was happy because she had had the confidence to say so, to a stranger, in a roomful of strangers. As only a parent can be, I was immensely proud of her.
She then jumped at the chance to be involved when more interaction was requested – such as helping with smoke filled bubbles, and being placed inside a bubble! She had an awesome time, and hopefully learned something about science. But I think it displayed something more fundamentally important – self-confidence.
Why it’s important to me to raise a confident girl
I strongly believe that much of what we achieve in life, or opportunities we fail to capitalise on, can be put down to confidence and whether we posses it or not. Overall, girls have a tougher time gaining and maintaining confidence. There are any factors, but one aspect is being ignored or dismissed by men simply because they are women.
Encouraging our daughter to believe in herself, and have the confidence to express her knowledge in the face of potential barriers is vitally important. On this occasion, it was a man in a bubble show inviting answers to an audience. In the future it could be a man in a work meeting trying to shut down her dissenting opinion because she’s a woman.
These small steps in childhood will help her confidence to grow, so she can face up to the challenges ahead of her, whether bubble related or not.
I guess I also have to face the fact that Peppa Pig isn’t all bad. Dammit.