Calculated Moves a Dad Can Make to Support his Daughter … Building Curiosity & Confidence by Playing Chess, Lego and Nintendo.
There’s something about having a child that makes you continuously pause and self-reflect on the past and future. As soon as my daughter, Divya, was born in April 2015, I had a whole new appreciation for my own mother. I suddenly felt guilty for not appreciating her enough for everything that she had done for me in this world. Not just for her, but for all mothers!
It wasn’t until very recently, when Divya turned three, that I began to think more about her future. Not in just ensuring that she’s happy and healthy, but what my husband and I could be doing to prepare her for the future economy.
It’s daunting to think that 50% of the jobs will be impacted in the next 10 years due to advances in AI, digitization, and robotics. Taking it a bit further, who knows what jobs will exist in 20 years? So how do we, as parents, ensure we are preparing our young daughter to be self-sufficient and happy in the future?
I’m an engineer; those that know me don’t find this surprising. I always loved math, solving puzzles, playing chess – I wondered how that happened? As I reflected, and not discounting the profound impact my mother had in my life, I realized that my father played a critical role.
Starting at the early age of 3 and half my father would play Chess with me every Friday after dinner. The winner would get 25 cents! This tradition continued for about a decade. I don’t know how my dad had the patience to teach me Chess – but this early start got me hooked on the game. For anyone that doesn’t play Chess, you learn problem solving, patience, strategic thinking, abstract reasoning, sportsmanship, and pattern recognition. I also learned the consequences of cheating and the power of negotiation when I wanted to take back a move 🙂
Without it being called STEM, the STEM inspired activities continued … My dad bought me my first train set when I was 5 and I was completely obsessed. At 7 he bought me my first Lego set. I would sit for hours and build different things and he would proudly display it in our home for everyone to see. At 9, he bought me (maybe it was for him … I’ll have to ask my mom) a Nintendo. And at 10 he bought our first personal computer. This was a massive purchase for an immigrant family – but he convinced my mom this was the future and we all needed to know how to use one.
During my elementary school years, my mom worked and went to night school (ironically, to take computer skills to get a better job) and so my dad was my primary care giver after school. Probably not intentionally, but he got me involved in many things. I would be there holding a hammer and nails if he was hanging up a picture. I would sit beside him with a screwdriver or hammer if we were building a bookcase. We would sketch and measure how to lay tile for a new backsplash. He would also help me with my homework every night.
Intentionally or unintentionally, he kept me curious about science and math and built my confidence, which I strongly believe played a very big part in who I am today.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I want Divya to be independent, self-sufficient, strong and happy in whatever she may do and become. For Divya, she is lucky! Privileged to have two parents who have the time to keep her curious about STEM – we hope!
We want to share our journey and our learnings with all parents – particularly highlighting the importance of fathers encouraging their daughters to be curious and build confidence and perseverance through trial and error. We are betting on the long game to ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys. We are hopeful in closing the gender gap, particularly in STEM roles in Canada, in 15-20 years.
We hope you will join us in this journey and find value in Dads for Daughters in STEM.