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Marlborough traditions perpetuate gender stereotypes

Graphic by Ellie '18
Graphic by Ellie ’18

Marlborough heavily emphasizes the importance of traditions, especially those including family members or parents, such as the Father-Daughter Picnic or the mother-daughter singing and lunch on their Mascot Day senior year; however, after analyzing the different father-daughter and mother-daughter traditions, it becomes apparent that there are some forms of gender bias in terms of the times and days these events take place.

The outdated stereotype that men are the ones who make the money and have day jobs is perpetuated in Marlborough traditions as all father-daughter traditions are either before a typical work day begins or on the weekend. Conversely, mother-daughter traditions typically occur during the middle of a school or work day, implying that women are available to come to Marlborough during the day because they do not have professional obligations.

For example, the father-daughter picnic is on the weekend, and the pancake breakfast is early in the morning, typically lasting no later than 10:00 AM. Both events, do not conflict with a typical workday. In addition, the father-daughter picnic is when the dads sing their songs to the senior class; however, the mothers sing their songs on Mascot Day, which typically is at 11:00 a.m. and then have a luncheon with their daughters, which lasts until about 1:00 p.m. These traditions, although very similar, happen at different times—mothers are expected to be free in the middle of the day, while fathers are expected to only have times on the weekend and not during a typical work day.

It is important that as a community we do not perpetuate the dated notion that women and men belong in separate spheres and have different roles in society. Many fathers are stay at home dads and many mothers are working moms. As a community, we should recognize that there is no one definition for what it means to be a father or a mother.

The School has recently started to address this issue through a focus group led by Director of Admissions Jeanette Woo Chitjian, who seeks to look into how events involving parents are structured. Marlborough should correct this misguided practice by hosting both mother-daughter and father-daughter events on weekends and weekdays so as to not perpetuate the stereotypes associated with what it means to be a father or a mother.