It’s hard to see, but the Post-It note to the lower right of the yellow box says, “My mom has a PhD in Math”.
Stereotypes are insidious. They are woven into the very fabric of our society. In this case, it is the idea that your mom (or grandma, as is often the case) is an uneducated stay-at-home type who only knows house keeping, raising children and organizing church bake sales and Girl Scout cookie sales. The truth, of course, is much different.
Most women I know, including mothers and grandmothers, are well educated, well informed, working (or retired) women. Most of them have been to college and those who haven’t have moved up in the workforce to positions of responsibility that require technical and/or analytical skills. In many cases, these “moms” would be the ones explaining how to solve the puzzle to the younglings.
We see ads like this all the time. We hear the same theme echoed in the media daily and think nothing of it. It is subtle prejudices like this that continue to undermine women’s progress in society.
What can we do about it? Every time we see something like this ad, we need to contact whoever placed it and let them know why it is wrong. We need to raise awareness with advertisers, media outlets, and anywhere else we see these “little assumptions” and let them know that they offend and that they are unintentionally perpetuating stereotypical prejudices against women.
I went to the ITA website, but couldn’t find an email address to send my concerns to, so I had to do it the old fashioned way. Here is a copy of the letter I wrote to them to raise their awareness about the stereotype they perpetuate in their ad.
For those of you who would like to share their concern with ITA Software, you can download a Word doc of my letter. Just add your name and address and mail it to the address at the top.