I am excited we finally updated the Fire Station app this week with a video portrait of Firefighter Shelley Terrizzi.
Ever since the Fire Station app was released I’ve been eager to find a female firefighter to film and include in the app. Fire Chief Jefferson and Firefighter Terrizzi, of our hometown of Arlington, MA, quickly agreed to participate and, along with their colleagues, were very accommodating with the filming.
I knew how important it was to include a female firefighter in the app, so both boys and girls could see that anyone can grow up and work hard and be who they want to be. But I didn’t expect the video to have such an impact on our own daughter.
Before creating this video, whenever my daughter was asked what she wanted to be when she grows up, she always said a soccer player. I loved her answer. It made me laugh, not only because she kind of flaked out on her soccer team that I was assistant coaching in the fall, but because it was such a unique answer. I liked that by deciding to be a soccer player she was making her own choice based on her own interests. She doesn’t even know there are professional women’s soccer teams and she’s never seen a professional women’s game. She just loves playing soccer with her brother, so she decided she was going to be a soccer player.
When I recently went into her kindergarten classroom I saw that all the kids had written and drawn pictures of what they want to be when they grow up. There was quite a range of answers, from chef and doctor to teacher and car mechanic. I was surprised that Clio’s didn’t say soccer player, but firefighter.
Watching the video of Firefighter Terrizzi working as a firefighter clearly had an impact on our daughter. Before seeing the video she didn’t know women could be firefighters. She was able to imagine herself as a grown-up soccer player because she plays soccer now. But before seeing the video of Firefighter Terrizzi, she never imagined herself as a firefighter.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has conducted some interesting research on the portrayal of women and their professions in the media. Not surprisingly fewer female characters in tv shows and movies have jobs than male characters and often their jobs are less prestigious. As I think about the media I create and the media my kids consume I will keep their findings in mind:
Both young girls and boys should see female decision-makers, political leaders, managers, and scientists as the norm, not the exception. By increasing the number and diversity of female leaders and role models on screen, content creators may affect the ambitions and career aspirations of girls and young women domestically and internationally. As Geena Davis frequently states, “If she can see it, she can be it.”
I’m sure our daughter will change her mind about what she wants to do when she grows up dozens of times. My hope is that she can imagine just as many possibilities as our son.