I am a child care center director. I have been working in this field for almost 12 years, and I have moved my way up the ladder into leadership. While being a care provider often is, in the world’s eyes, a ‘woman’s job,’ the for-profit industry is predominantly run and invested in by men. We, the teachers and leaders at the center level, often feel like bottom-feeders, the lowest rung, doing the most work for the least amount of pay. In reality, I/we are raising many of these children, as they spend sometimes 10, 11, or 12 hours with their caregivers. Our role in their lives, and in their development of self, is critical and necessary.
To me, feminism is a woman being viewed as having just as much influence in any area as a man, and being treated as though she can create the same amount of change, in the same amount of time, with the same amount of resources. In my eyes, the journey toward the self-actualization of this influence begins in childhood.
One of the greatest areas of discrepancy when it comes to working with different families is the issue of gender. I can’t begin to tell you how many conversations I have had with parents of boys who have aggression issues, and it’s dismissed with the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” I’ve also been confronted with angry fathers, furious that their sons would be exposed to dress-up and housekeeping on a daily basis. “Why aren’t there more trucks and cars and blocks?” they shout at me. Many of the girls in my care are dropped off by parents who guide them to the area of the classroom with the babies and the dress-up clothes, away from the boys who are furiously racing cars through a plastic Little People parking ramp. “You can come play with the other girls,” they quietly reassure their little homemakers. I even have teachers who come to me and ask for more ‘boy toys’ or more ‘girl toys.’
So much of these kids’ lives and identities are shaped here. More often than not, these early years are incredibly pivotal for the development of children’s gender identities and the definitions that the world and all it’s madness attaches to them – especially little girls. Being in a position of leadership in a world run at the corporate level by predominantly men, I feel that I have a responsibility – nay, an obligation – to show these girls that women can set examples for administration at a higher level than is often encouraged. Have I had to shout at the top of my lungs to be heard in an industry managed by men? You bet. Have I been heard? Absolutely, because I refuse not to be. My role, as a guide for these women who are starry-eyed young educators, and as a leader for the little girls in my care, is to prove that my voice as a woman can be just as loud and just as influential as the voices of the suits at the top; the bearded wallets with their ties and their golf clubs and their total lack of understanding of what it means to raise a little girl into a strong woman. That’s why I’m a feminist. That’s what feminism means to me.
My name is Brooke Wilson and I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I live with my daughter, my boyfriend, and his daughter on the Northeast side. I have my Bachelors in Psychology, I’ve been in the child education field for 12 years, and I run a child care center. Feminism is important to me because I’m raising daughters, and I can’t think of a better reason to build up the cause of women than them and their future.