It was against all odds really. We sent her to a private school at first - for what we thought was a better education. We should have known the first year what was to come.
"She is very bossy." We asked, what does that mean? "She tells the other children what to do." Like what or how? "When they fall behind she tells them what to do."
We asked the question of our daughter. She wanted to help those that were falling behind. When the teacher was busy, she showed them what to do or how to solve a problem,. This was defined as bossy.
"She gives the boys a hard time." Again, we asked to provide an example. Our daughter said, "they told me I could not be a Jedi." "Girls they said - can't be a Jedi - it isn't possible, so I told them they were wrong." My daughter was told during show and tell (of toys) that she could not be what she wanted to be because no female action figure existed.
Years later she encountered similar inequities to what I can only say is a systematic issue of misdirecting female talent. To make it worse, girls of color are even more likely to experience misdirection. Please see the attached articles:
Gender bias exists
Race and Gender in Education
When in middle school she was told to not pursue the sciences or math. "You aren't good enough" she was told. Later when asked why she was interested in the sciences she was asked "why don't you just marry a doctor instead." These were things stated to a minor, a student in a classroom. This happened on our watch.
As parents and educators we have to constantly be mindful of the messages that are being sent to students and children. These are more direct examples, but the risk to kill dreams and talent by simple bias is real.
So what happened? We switched schools. She thrived. I am happy to report that she is 18 and has graduated 3rd in her class. She was also honored for her leadership role as a teen for pursuing the sciences by the YWCA, as well as receiving a Senior Award from her school for her achievement in this area. She will be studying in the sciences in college. She has been asked to already work on a research project during her freshman year. As for the most important issue, yes, there is a such thing as a female Jedi knight. While on business, I bought her this action figure. She brought it to show and tell. Dad chose bossy - and she kicks butt.