"How come there are so few girls here?" Blonde Niece asked me.
We were sitting inside the ski lodge, eating lunch at a table full of teenage boys, some of them related to us. She's thirteen, taking snowboarding lessons for the first time, and she reported that she's the only girl in her group. We looked around the lodge and counted. The ratio of males to females was about 6 to 1. Not even close to being equal.
I don't understand why this gender inequity on the ski slopes still exists. I know that for my parents' generation, traditional gender roles dictated that on Sundays, men got to play on the ski slopes while the wives stayed home with the children to cook the Sunday dinner. But that was the 1950s and this is 2005, and almost every person in the lodge was younger than I am. Most of them were teenagers.
We discussed the physical differences between men and women. Women are more flexible and have a lower center of gravity, all of which should work in their favor when skiing. Women have more fat on their bodies, which makes them more insulated from the cold. Looking at the biological factors alone, the slopes should be dominated by women. But clearly, they aren't -- at least in this rural area where the skiers and boarders come from conservative small towns.
I asked Blonde Niece how come her male friends snow board and her female friends don't. She said that the boys think it's cool and macho and makes them look tough. The girls don't want to get bruises and get sweaty and have their hair look bad. And of course parents encourage boys to ski or board, willingly buying them lift tickets, but girls don't get that encouragement.
How frustrating that in the year 2005 junior high kids are still socialized to fit into these gendered stereotypes. Boys are supposed to be tough and be good at outdoor physical activities. Girls are supposed to look pretty. This kind of thing drives me crazy.