When will we stop stereotyping women?

Few days back, I saw two billboards separated by couple of Kms on my way to work. Both are advertisements of one of the high end international schools in Hyderabad. The first billboard had a cute young girl baking cake with her mother in the kitchen. And it said, “It’s not about education, it’s about inspiring a future” with name of the school next to it. The next billboard, couple of Kms later read the same, but showed a young boy playing chess with his father. First time, I couldn’t believe it. I thought I misread, or misinterpreted the message. Next day, I looked out for the billboards. There was no mistake, it was a girl baking a cake and a boy playing chess.

How can a school, that too supposedly one of the best (and most expensive) in Hyderabad, stereotype women like this? And add insult to injury by saying “it’s about inspiring future….” It’s simply incomprehensible to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against women cooking. But, why only cooking? Is that the only thing women are capable of, and young girls should be trained for? Had the next billboard shown the boy doing some household chores along with father (or even mother), or a family cooking together, it would have been different.

I am reminded of another incident which happened few weeks ago. We had organized women’s day celebration at work. We invited few successful women from other organizations for panel discussion. Theme was around women, managing home and work, success at work etc. Instead of making an all-women event, a mix of men and women were invited. As the women on the stage talked about how they managed work, how they had to manage their guilt because of their inability to spend enough time with kids, one senior male colleague got up and asked, “All of you are talking about success at work, balancing and stuff like that. If you are so concerned about your success, who will take care of the values of children at home? Isn’t that also a responsibility? Have you considered it?” I was shell shocked. Is it only a mother’s responsibility to ensure children are brought up with right values? For that matter, is it even possible for the mother to do it alone? She can, if circumstances force her to. But, how could this senior colleague even think that brining up children with right values is only a woman’s responsibility?

Why do we stereotype women so much? How can we expect women to progress and truly become equal to men with such mindsets and stereotyping? Will it ever stop? What can we do to stop it? Any thoughts?

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