Sophia Trow is eight years-old and she is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't like flowery designs -- she's into dinosaurs. When Sophia went shoe shopping and discovered Clark Shoes' line of dinosaur-bearing shoes for boys, her interest was piqued. That is, until she was told that boys' shoes aren't made to fit girls, turning her back to the pink and purple aisle of flowers and unicorns. Sophia didn't take no for an answer. She took matters into her own hands and wrote a letter to the execs at Clarks Shoes, the makers of the "boys only" dino kicks, and her intrepid mom Jane Trow tweeted the letter, tagging @clarksshoes. Now, women all over the globe with careers in science and engineering are providing back-up for Sophia, showing off their work shoes using the hashtag #InMyShoes, in hopes of showing Clarks and other shoemakers that girls (who grow up to become women) can like dinosaurs, too.
Solidarity doesn’t begin to describe this movement. Indeed, it’s an awakening for product designers, manufacturers, and marketing professionals everywhere. Sophia isn’t the first girl to reject the “girl-specific” designs offered to her, and sure enough, she won’t be the last.
Clarks replied to Sophia (via Twitter) with an apology and later, the offer of a free pair of shoes. In a statement to Today.com, the company went on to say that they are working on more “unisex” shoe designs, although they didn’t offer details on when those designs might hit the market. Their primary apology was that their offerings didn’t “suit [Sophia’s] tastes.” Critics of sexism understand that this is often the language used by companies who seek to continue institutionalizing gender stereotypes regardless of feedback.
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Of the Twitter campaign, Sophia’s mom Jane told Today.com about why she thinks it’s important for her daughter, and other children, to have encouragement from other adults. “I think girls, in particular, need visible positive role models to look up to, where looks are not the sign of success,” she said.
Women around the globe have posted photos of their work footwear in an effort to help Sophia make her point. They are archaeologists, paleontologists, biomedical researchers, educators, industrial designers, and spaceflight engineers. Women in science and engineering fields are still a tiny minority, but they are a strong and bold one. Young girls with interests beyond Barbies and butterflies should be encouraged just as much as their glittery counterparts, for they will someday (and soon!) be growing into young women, ready to choose a career path where their sharpest interests and abilities can be utilized.
Sophia is one brave little girl among many, searching the world for the basic support that every child should have. Thankfully, her mother recognized the problem with a system that insists that boys and girls are so different that they can’t even wear the same shoes. By following the Twitter hashtag, it’s obvious to see that young girls and their mothers are not the only people paying attention to this issue. Indeed, an entire generation of women is taking note, and their voices aren’t likely to quiet anytime soon.
Lead image via Stuart Bolton/North News; other images via respective Twitter users