ASPIRE: (Verb) pursue . direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something
I attend a small-group meeting on Monday evenings when we study the Psalms of David. Prior to our discussion this past Monday, the ice-breaker question was, “When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?” I said I wanted to be a teacher just like Miss Grant, whom I admired immensely. A female member of the group said she wanted to be like Superman; she wanted to fly, and she made up stories about flying. Now, isn’t that interesting? A girl aspiring to be Superman!
This is Women’s History Month. It is most fitting to think of aspirations, our word for this week, and when we think of aspirations in the context of this celebration month, a popular phrase comes to mind: “You’ve come a long way baby!” which is true, although not long enough. For it wasn’t too long ago that a girl had few options: be a teacher or a nurse. But some girls have always tried a different path. Think Amelia Earhart and Marie Curie. I remember our college class going to visit a school with our professor to observe their teaching program. At the school we met a youngster who was from Australia. We were intrigued by her sweet accent. When we asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said, “a milkmaid.” That little girl was going against the grain. Perhaps her parents wanted her to be a teacher or a nurse, but she wanted something else.
Today’s girls have choices, a wide range of options for what they want to be when they grow up. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education program is one attempt to assure that they have a chance to fill up the gap. They can grow up to be in the boardroom as well as the locker room, in submarines as well as in space ships. They can be everywhere.
An article in the March 2019 Smithsonian magazine gives interesting highlights about women and how they are treated historically. It points to a new study which shows how few women’s lives are assigned as required reading in American schools K-12. Of the 737 historical figures prescribed as essential reading in the social studies curriculum, 559 are men and 178 are women. Two of the women are actually fictional characters, Rosie the Riveter being one of them. Among the women most often cited for study are Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Another source where women are underrepresented is in Wikipedia, the popular online go-to reference source. According to the Smithsonian, information on Wikipedia has only 19% on women in its extensive database on biographies. It is suggested that “notability” is the criterion for the Wikipedia biographical selections, and women, it is felt, do not achieve the requisite notability level. It is interesting that one of the 2018 Nobel Prize Winners for Physics, Donna Strickland, wasn’t mentioned by Wikipedia prior to her outstanding accomplishment. Evidently, she wasn’t notable enough before.
The ice-breaker question for the meeting last Monday night was a two-parter, the second of which was, “Now, what do you want to be when you grow up?” We couldn’t give an unequivocal answer to that question. Perhaps we had grown up too much. But many mature women (and men) would certainly choose differently from what they ended up doing. This is a no-limits time in history for women. Remember singer Pearl Bailey? In her eighties she enrolled at Howard University to get a degree, studying among other things philosophy. Women now branch out into new fields; they accept new challenges in career choices that they might not have considered when they were very young. For today’s woman, the popular saying “The sky is the limit” is hardly an exaggeration.
Woman has always been special in the eyes of her Maker, who prepared her as His choice creation, set her in a garden, gave work, and gave her the gifts to use in working to improve her world. This month, and always, she has His backing as she directs her hopes and ambitions toward aspiring to accomplish something worthwhile in the world.
“It took a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
For today’s woman, the saying “The sky is the limit” is hardly an exaggeration. Woman has always been special in the eyes of her Maker, who saw her as His choice creation, set her in a garden, gave her work, and gave her talents to use in working to improve her world. This month and always, she has His backing as she directs her hopes and ambitions toward achieving something worthwhile.