The Riddle

8 Mar

In honour of today, I have half a blog post ready about my take on women’s issues that I was going to finish and post later. This is what I have been so engrossed in every morning lately and it is currently a very hot topic in Norway. But incidentally, as my husband has an important brain surgery (exam) this afternoon, I’m home alone with a sick child and will instead have to be brief. What it boils down to is the question: Are we finished? Is the work completed? Do we have equal rights and equal opportunities? Let me therefore present you with a riddle.

“A father and son are in a serious car accident. They are brought to hospital and it turns out the son needs emergency surgery. He is brought to the operating theatre, but the surgeon immediately exclaims: “I cannot operate on this boy, he is my son.” Who is the surgeon?”

Over the past ten years I have presented this riddle to a number of people of different ages, genders and professions. There have been many creative answers, but only one person has ever got it right. About eight years ago I asked a seven year old girl, and she first observed me with a confused look; Not a “I have no idea”-look, but a “how is this a riddle?”-look. In a “duh”-tone of voice, she exclaimed, “his mother”. My heart warmed and my hope for humanity soared. “How far we have come!”, I thought. She is now 15 and I recently decided to ask her if she remembered the riddle, which she didn’t, so I asked her again. This time, however, she didn’t get it, and it set me thinking.

This is a very smart, young woman currently working hard in order to become a veterinarian and this is obviously not a reflection on her or anybody elses mental faculties. Interestingly, I have asked female medical students who after six years of medical training say, “the boy has gay dads”, rather than coming to the obvious conclusion. We laugh it off as a good joke and little more. Of course a woman can be a surgeon. We all know and accept, understand and encourage this. But although girls today have all the opportunities in the world and even though they frequently act on these, my question is, when will they truly start believing it?

There is still a way to go with regards to changing gender stereotypes that are very much alive, and let’s not forget the inequality that is still alive and well in many parts of the world, so let’s not sit back and relax just yet!

The organisation Room to Read has a current campaign that focuses on exactly this. Take a look and support! “Educate a girl, and everything changes

Dr. Matilda


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