We have been walking with a friend who recently had a baby girl. Pushing the stroller ahead, she said loudly, oblivious to our surroundings, “I made a discovery! Girls are totally not boys!” A group of young men walking back from the beach stared then doubled up laughing. Indeed, men are not women and little girls are not little boys. How many times in my life have I seen the same tableau? There’s a boy aged four-five; he stares mesmerized at a cement-mixer truck with its revolving rear container while his mother patiently waits by his side. Boys can spend hours trying to understand how yet another large or small machine works. My young godson, 4, told me enthusiastically about his watching TV with his Grandpa. “And then the police car rushed after them with loud sirens and lights flashing!” At an airport, one can observe men aged 0-100 stay by a window fixedly looking at planes land and take off. I know that Frankfurt airport is huge. I had no idea how many flights it accommodates during an hour, and it’s never occurred to me to count. Then I learned that planes whoosh by with the frequency of a plane per minute or even faster, because we spent half an hour just watching them with my man. Give them any car, any aggregate, any apparatus, and they are hooked. Here is a joke. Two guys are talking, and one asks another, an expectant father, whether he wants to have a boy or a girl. The answer is, “It’s a boy and I can’t wait to try the new toy helicopter which I already bought for him!”

I personally know exactly one young woman who is like that. She can stare at any machinery for hours on end. How is she different from men? Ah, that’s an important distinction. She can also spend hours rummaging through bijouterie counters, and she is savvy about the fashions. She is always nicely put together, and her outfits are always trendy.

Is it nature or nurture? I honestly don’t know. Little girls are immediately attracted to dolls, to pretty clothes and bright trinkets. It does not mean that they are not future scientists for instance. Daily home life and professional occupation are two sides of our life. A researcher can look nice, be they male or female. I don’t think it depends on sex; rather it depends on natural aptitudes and abilities, likes and dislikes interests and inclinations. A career woman does not have to look like a man nor follow in their footsteps. A woman who can take apart and then put together a piece of machinery can clean up afterwards, put on a fashionable dress or slacks, apply her make-up, choose her accessories, get matching shoes and handbag, and sail out into the world looking like a new person. Most men can clean up even without reminders; many would need some guidance as to the choice of clothes and shoes.

Bottom line is, whatever we like to do, to observe, to follow is fine. One thing does not exclude another.



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