My 6-year-old daughter brought home a glimpse of 40 years for now with a book, “First Grade Futures.”
“When I grow up, I want to be president,” she wrote. “I’ll work at the White House. I’ll make up laws to keep the country safe.”
I have to wonder if she thought of this book as fiction or an achievable goal, though. As a father of three girls, this question keeps me up at night: Does she have a real chance to do anything she wants to do?
Recently I wore a suit jacket to work for a presentation, a step up from my typical shirt and tie. She told me I looked handsome. She giggled and called me “Mr. President.”
I looked across the kitchen at my wife, a professional woman who happened to be wearing a blazer that day. I said my wife also wore a suit and suggested she could be president.
“She can’t be president,” my daughter said. “She’d have to be First Lady.”
I corrected her, telling her that her mother could be president. I could be the First Gentleman. It could happen.
She found it improbable. She’s a bit of a presidential scholar already. She knew there hasn’t been a female president. She knew there hadn’t been a female vice president.
Of course, there hadn’t been a black president either, until Barack Obama’s election. Somehow this didn’t convince her. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it should.
Women have worked outside the home for generations now. Females make up half the workforce. Yet women still only make 77 cents for every dollar a man wakes, according to a 2012 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Women only hold 20 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, notes the Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics. Ladies hold 79 of the 435 House seats, including three of Ohio’s 16 seats.
With a primary election coming up Tuesday, it’s hard not to notice just how few women are on the ballot. I’ll try to remind her the candidates for lieutenant governor on the Democratic and Republican tickets are both female, but she’ll still see a crowd of men running for the state representative, state Senate and U.S. House.
In other words, she lacks a good variety of role models to prove that childhood dream could come true.
I hope she finds those role models. I hope she discovers the right person in line with whatever her political leanings may become. Perhaps she’ll see that women, including her mother, are just as capable of running for president as any man in this country.
Or perhaps she will be that trailblazer. She’s eligible to run for president in 2044, after all.
All a father can do is keep reminding her that she can do anything, as long as she does the hard work to make it happen.
I can’t wait to visit her in Washington some day.