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Change Textbooks and Allow Tears

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DQW Bureau
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Do you know about the history of computers? Many don't know the term was used

to refer to women or that it was not the US Army but the women who worked for

the US Defence Department who created computers and the first computer program

and first programming language.

When you open any textbook of science or social studies today, the role of

women achievers in science and technology goes unmentioned. Textbooks,

especially on science and history of technology, almost always never refer to

the women achievers in question but generally state that the 'The US Army

invented computers'!

Another disturbing trend is the acceptance of the myth 'Showing emotions is a

sign of weakness' as normal. While yelling at a junior in the workplace is

considered acceptable, crying has been banned! According to William H Frey II, a

professor in the neurology department at the University of Minnesota, crying is

an excretory process which evolved as an adaptive response to emotional stress.

It increases our survival by reducing the harmful effect of stress on the body.

Since we ban crying at the workplace as weakness, we are effectively banning the

human body's natural response to banish stress!

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How did we get here? There are three main factors:


Text book content:
We are what we read. For generations, our schoolbooks

have failed to mention the pioneering women in science, technology, business,

and computers. They wither due to ignorance or poor research. Failure to update

textbooks in light of new inventions and giving credit to the women achievers

has deprived generations of women role models but more importantly knowledge of

their existence.

Today, if you flip through any school textbook, you would rarely find a

lesson written about a woman achiever in technology or science. Children, both

boys and girls, grow up to believe that women haven't contributed to the

advancement of science, technology, or engineering. Every time a child opens a

womanless textbook, it sends the subtle message that women have never played any

significant role in the development of civilization. Since boys read the same

books, they are taught the same thing-that women never contributed anything to

development and society, conditioning them from an early age to consider women

as inferior. This leads to the continuation of 'women' and 'men' roles in

society. This also has a domino effect for these same children later become

educated parents and continue this behaviour. Simply put, our school textbooks

are sexist.

Parenting: According to a 2004 UNESCO study, girls consistently match

or surpass boys' achievements in science and mathematics in schools across the

world. Despite this, in India, even though roughly 45% of students in

engineering colleges are women and many graduate with honours, less than 10% go

on to pursue full time careers as engineers. In the educated Indian middle class

society, degrees in engineering and medicine are either used as a status symbol

for girls to land a husband, after which the girl is asked to give up her career

as 'we don't need the money' or forced to give it up for the 'well being of the

children'. Otherwise, the woman is labeled 'a bad homemaker' because in

dual-income families, women still do most of the 'homework'. Another disturbing

trend which has been recently bombarded is that crying is a sign of weakness and

not sadness! Slowly we are becoming a society where we actually have the gall to

ban tears! Parents teach children to ignore the tears and thereby refuse to let

the child or its peers acknowledge sadness! Once you get to be a teenager,

crying is not considered okay at public places. This has only led to alarming

increase in stress, depression and obesity in Indian society as youth can't find

their emotional release in tears.

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Workplace Behaviour: In the last two decades, acceptable workplace has

undergone a slow and silent but radical change. Workplace has become one of

those environments where tears and laughter are viewed as inappropriate,

especially tears. It can have detrimental effects on reviews and executive

promotion. Suddenly, tears and laughter are bad and have become indicators of

incompetence and low confidence! While it is true that laughing or crying where

we are displaying an emotion arising due to a personal issue at home and has

nothing to do with the workplace or the job at hand which is inappropriate, it

is completely crazy to ask people to hide their sadness or happiness even when

they are directly affected due to situations at the workplaces. This directly

contradicts the loads of research on 'emotional intelligence' which says that

the ability to express your emotions through laughter or tears also makes us

better, more effective leaders. Vulnerability makes us human and not

incompetent. Bosses need to be trained to handle crying and laughing. If we

continue on as before, others would be justified in saying engineers or techies

are robots.

The above three factors greatly influence social perception of the role of

technology and the technical workplace. Crying is considered unprofessional and

as a sign of weakness or inability to do the job! At times, it is considered

feminine when a man cries, and he is made fun of or ridiculed! This is

illogical. Emotions are not irrational. You don't feel happiness without having

achieved something. The same is true for sadness. Also, is it humanely possible

to be happy at the workplace all the time? At times, even laughter is considered

wrong. This kind of changing rules makes it mandatory that engineers should be

robots at the workplace-efficient and inhuman. What kind of message are we

sending out to the next generation with such content, parenting and behaviour?

Be happy all the time or you are unprofessional? Ignore your fellow worker or

colleague's tears at the workplace instead of finding out what is bothering

them? Are we telling the future generation that to be perceived as strong, we

should not empathise or feel sad?

Way Forward


Check accuracy of textbooks:
Have authors rework their textbooks or get new

ones which are more accurate. Knowledge is power but ignorance is death.

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Rethink your parenting: Learn to listen and acknowledge both happiness

and sadness in your children. Don't ban them from expressing sadness through

tears as otherwise they find the emotional release in violence, suicide,

slashing, self torture and screaming.

Change the workplace rules: People who succeed in their careers are

people who are their true selves. Bosses who are secure with themselves can

actually deal with employees crying just fine. So any person at the workplace

who cannot deal with crying needs some therapy or needs to learn techniques as

to how to deal with it as they probably have never learned to deal with

sadness-their own and others.

Together, let us build a society where people are truly educated and

healthier.

Source: DQ

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