Girls rock! I’m partial of course, as I have two daughters. Our eldest, twelve, has just returned from a class at school about sexual stereotypes – from the simple, seemingly innocent (little girls play with dolls, little boys play with cars, etc), to the more significant (why are so many world leaders and captains of industry men?). Now, I certainly had nothing of the sort at elementary school, but then I’m not sure that the nuns who ran it were best place to comment on the politics of sexual stereotyping…. It’s striking, however, thinking back on my own school days to see how much has changed, and how little has changed.

Today, the leaders of Germany, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Chile, Latvia, Lithuania – to name only a few countries – as well as the head of the IMF, the Federal Reserve of the US and countless companies are all women. Maybe I was paying less attention to these things as a boy (I hope so!), but I cannot think of a single female world leader from the time I was growing up in the 70s.

On the other hand, you only need to pay a visit the local shopping mall to see that the tired old boy/girl dichotomy is still going strong in media, fashion, toys and music. With messages like these, how are we going to move beyond these dated paradigms? For one thing, by boycotting the most nonsensical of these products. More importantly though, by educating our daughters, and our sons to recognise such messages for what they are – a very subtle form of manipulation. And encouraging them to have the courage to be true to themselves, and to know that things are rarely black and white, and that there are many more colours in the spectrum of life beyond ‘pink’ and ‘blue’.