My first realization that something was amiss was when I was in third grade. I wanted to be on the safety patrol at school. Honestly, it never occurred to me that all the safety patrol kids were male. I marched myself into the school office and told them I wanted to join the squad. The school secretary told me this was not possible. She said you are a girl. Only boys were allowed on Safety Patrol. My 7 year old, 1960 mind accepted that, but really didn't understand what it meant. I just kept going.
Flash forward to 1966. I was in Mr. Thames Science class. I loved Science. I remember being the only one who could stand up and recite the entire Periodic Table from memory. One day, he told the class there was a Rocket Club forming. I was so excited. I went up to his desk after class and told him I wanted to join. He said "NO". The Rocket Club was for boys only. It is almost hard to believe nowadays and teacher would say something that stupid, but this teacher said it to me. My rocket dreams were squashed. That was the moment I realized this is total bullshit. Yet, I just kept going.
High school came and I was prepared. I was already working on my art daily at home and at school. However, there was still a little part of me that wished I could go in other directions too. I had to fight to be in Physics and Electronics classes. I won, but I was the only female in both classes. I was really into it. I stayed in Girl Scouts until high school. As a Senior Scout, you could earn medals by taking classes and doing things to prove proficiency. I wanted the Science and Technology medal. The council told me they didn't have any classes because there wasn't enough interest. However, they told me I could make up my own program. So I did. I went wild. I have to laugh at the balls I had when I was fifteen years old. I actually called the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant and told them I wanted a tour. They said YES. LOL LOL I went there with my girl scout uniform on and they gave me a personal tour. Also, they gave me all kinds of great leads and letters to gain entry into other science related venues. The council was impressed. I got my medal, but there was a little part of me that became worn out. I felt how hard it was and even at the young age, I felt the resistance.
I ended up choosing ART as my path. I just didn't have the fight in me anymore. This was because there were people who supported my interest in being an artist. Nobody was there to support my interest in science. Even though I am an old artist and have no regrets in regard to becoming a painter, there is still this tiny voice in my head. What if things had been different? What if I had been allowed to be on Safety Patrol? What if I had been invited to the Rocket Club? What if?
It is all about shoulda, woulda, coulda. In this political climate, I worry for our girls today. They too will probably have to live their lives fighting because they are female. You would think it would be different now. However, it is not.