There is a small-sized baseball field built right beside one of the gardens I visit often, and just about every weekend they hold little league games. I usually am not too interested and walk by without paying much attention. But the other day, one of the players caught my eye – there was a girl, and she was standing on the pitcher’s mound!
I watched her throw a few balls… they were not fast, nor did they enter the catcher’s mitt where he placed it. She had a couple of runners on base, and she was facing a tough batter who simply would not swing the bat at her balls. So when she threw two consecutive strikes after falling behind 3-0 in the count and got him to hit a ground ball to the second to end the inning, I thought “well done, for a girl.” And I quickly lost interest and walked away without a clap to applaud her.
A few steps later, I was very ashamed of myself for thinking and reacting this way. My evaluation of her performance should not have depended on her gender, but I must have been watching her throw through tinted lens. Unconsciously, but unrightfully, I had expected her to do worse than her teammates in a traditionally boy’s game.
Maybe because her physique was different than boys, thinner and weaker… but when I think back, she was the tallest and with the longest reach on the team.
Maybe because she did not seem to face the batter head on… but when I think back, she took good care of the entire opposition, not letting the runners advance by steals.
Maybe because she did not overpower the batter with her best pitches… but when I think back, she may have outsmarted him with her mix of pitches.
I believe strongly in equal opportunity for boys and girls. I believe it for all things, even if they are traditionally single-gendered. And I believe, with appropriate training and education, they all have the potential of succeeding. So I am all for empowerment, especially for girls.
But I have to say that probably is not enough. We must also train and educate ourselves who, unconsciously but unrightfully, hold biased expectations for boys and girls and evaluate them on different scales. So I am all for establishment of equal evaluation, especially by including criteria that will result in fairer assessment of what are traditionally thought as girls’ competencies.
Today is International Day of the Girl Child, declared by the United Nations in 2012 – we still have a long long way to go to make this world a better place for girls, but I think designating a day to think about it is a good start. I hope we will make steady progress.
Additionally, this month has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month in many nations around the world for more than thirty years – the World Health Organization says that it is the leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide, with one in four of all cancers diagnosed being breast cancer. I hope more girls will have the opportunity to learn how to properly assess their risks and find out the correct ways to detect it early to have a better prognosis.
(Oh, the horror of ever growing picot size with every additional repeat!)