When I was a child, there was a riddle:
A father and a son are in a horrible accident. The father dies, and the son is rushed to the hospital. The surgeon rushes in, but suddenly stops, saying, “I can’t operate on this boy, he’s my son.” How is this possible?
30 years ago, this routinely stumped children, because they could not imagine a world where a woman was an accomplished surgeon. It served as both a parlour trick and a cultural marker the showed how far we still had to go in the quest for gender equality.
The premise of that riddle has been brilliantly updated by the MullenLowe Group, in the above video, an ad for Inspiring the Future, a nonprofit that connects people from the business world with public schools and universities. I was hoping that by now, gender barriers had fallen in the minds of children.
Sadly, the new riddle seems to be, “Will we ever be able to protect our children from these damaging stereotypes?”