Changing the Perception

A few years ago I was asked the following question, and was told most adults do not get it right, but most children under the age of 12 do.  Here it is:  A man and his boy were in a terrible car accident. Both went to the hospital, the man died. The surgeon walked into the operating room to perform surgery on the boy. However upon seeing the patient, the surgeon immediately said “I can’t work on this patient, he is my son.” Who is the surgeon?

It’s a head scratcher, and to be honest with you it took me a few minutes to get it, then it dawned on me who the surgeon was. Are you still thinking?  Have you figured it out yet?   Before I give you the answer, let’s talk about perception, since that is really what the question is about.

March is women’s history month and you can hardly go anywhere on line without seeing stories about Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Maya Angelou, and yes even Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. While we celebrate all women this month, the women mentioned are considered trailblazers, they each in their own way have stood up to a primarily dominated male run society and demanded, and still demand, equal rights for women. Certainly we’ve come a long way as a society and while many would like to say we’ve done it, we have changed people’s perceptions of what women can do, that simply isn’t the case.  Plenty of studies show that men still make more than women who do the same job. And in some industries it is common for men to outnumber and out rank women. In certain industries, for example in manufacturing, the perception is still that manufacturing is a man’s job.

In 2016 why are we still talking about women’s rights and the perceptions that come along with certain industries?  Maybe the biggest question is why do we still have to talk about it? Well the answer lies in the question from above; do you know who the surgeon is?  If you haven’t figured out yet who the surgeon is, then that is why we need to change people’s perceptions.  I dare you to ask a child the question from above and see what their response is. My 7 year old daughter got it right immediately. She was so excited that her dad didn’t know the answer and she did. She couldn’t take his pondering anymore and screamed out, “Dad, don’t you get it, it’s so easy. The surgeon is the boy’s mom.”

My husband’s response was shock; it hadn’t even crossed his mind that the boy’s mother could possibly be a surgeon. To be honest, at first it didn’t cross my mind either. So why did my daughter know the answer right away?  It’s simple; she doesn’t have any pre-conceived notions yet on what a woman’s job should look like. In her mind women can do anything, no one has told her yet (and hopefully they never will) that certain jobs should ‘only be performed by men’. She doesn’t see the world the way so many adults see it, that women can only work in certain industries. To her, the world is her oyster and she can do whatever she wants. I hope she always sees the world the way she does now, but the sad truth is that as she gets older she will be told she can’t do certain things because she is a girl, and her perception about her career will change.

Think about how different the world would be if we didn’t have any pre-conceived notions about what a woman’s job should look like. I currently work with the manufacturing sector, and I can tell you that the perception of many still is that working in manufacturing is a man’s job, that it’s a dirty job. None of those are true. Maybe in the past manufacturing was more labor intensive, but with advances in technology and the focus on cleaner, safer, work environments, that ‘dirty’ job has changed. Though the job has changed, how do we change the perception? How do we get more women into the industries, like manufacturing, when the perception is still that it’s a man’s job? We asked these questions and a few more to women who currently work in the manufacturing sector. To celebrate the last week of Women’s History month, we will be posting the answers these ladies in the industry gave to our questions.  I hope you read our blog this week and see what some of the women who work in manufacturing have to say.


Author: Christy Behnke

Marketing Coordinator | Field