Is This Really What I'm Going To Face?

I've always wanted to be a historian, and not just your run of the mill historian but one that changes the study and review of the discipline. But I've faced a problem, it's such a subtle problem that I almost missed it, but in hindsight I realise it's something I need to tackle head on.

To begin with, you must meet my male friend, J, now J and I are best friends due to our love of history. In fact we both want to study it in university, the difference being that J wishes to be a teacher and I wish to be an academic. During my final year of High School, J and I and others were asked continually what we wished to study.

Friend: So, what do you want to study after school?

Me: History

Friend: Oh, so you're going to be a history teacher?

Me: No, an academic.

Friend: Oh

That was standard conversation with me. It contrasts significantly with conversations with J.

Friend: So J, what are you going to study?

J: History

Friend: Ah, you'll be great at that. I can see you as a future historian, good career choice for you.

J: No I want to be a teacher

Friend: Cool, yeah you'd be awesome.

Is it sad that I, a female, was naturally assumed to be studying history in order to become a history teacher? Or my friend J, due to being male assumed to becoming a historian? Not only do I face stereotypes but so does my friend J. However, in this day and age males coming into the teaching profession is more common place than women entering academic fields. What I think is even sadder is the reactions we got, the stereotypes and assumptions have been so ingrained that the idea of me being an academic seemed odd.

Not only that, but I have been warned by female academics about jobs. They warn me about having children, telling me that after they had kids getting work was more difficult then I could ever imagine. I want to have a career and children, I don't want either to be sacrificed. I think that motherhood and employment are two very important factors in a functioning society and I just want to contribute to both, as an equal.

But this is only the start. And it is complete and utter bullshit. What other challenges with I have to face? Mentorship issues? Discrimination?

What decisions should I make? Should I give up my career once I have children? Will society allow me to continue what I love, but look down on me? Can I juggle motherhood and a career, without people judging me?

Will I be judged on my ability, not my gender?

I'm 18 and already I wonder.

But you know what? I shall overcome. Be the best that I can be.

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Katherine P
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