As a mom to a 6-year-old girl, I see the value in exposing her to powerful women every day. Strong women. Brave women. Women who broke the mold, shattered the ceiling, or at least cracked it, and did whatever they dreamed of — even if that dream was supposed to be one for boys only. We read regularly about women like Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, Sally Ride, and Susan B. Anthony. She needs to see women doing jobs that have historically been labeled as “only for men.” She needs to see women breaking barriers and achieving greatness. Because, as quoted in the book She Persisted (which we read a few times a week) Sally Ride says, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Well recently, UK dad Nathan Walker (who goes by Hullablue on Twitter) let his daughter see just what she can be. While at a soccer game (or as they call it in the UK, a football game), his 4-year-old daughter Clara noticed that the referee was a woman.
“Daughter was delighted to see this assistant referee today,” Walker wrote in his caption, adding that her daughter asked him: “Her hair is like mine, can I be a referee?”
And the world loved it. For good reason, too.
The tweet, which has been liked over 26,000 times and retweeted over 6,000 times so far, shows an image of a female referee smiling back at Nathan’s daughter, and reiterates the message that if a little girl can see it, she can believe it. In that one brief moment, this little girl saw something that she can be — a job that might historically have been filled by a man. And she believed she could one day stand in those same shoes, too.
The team the father and daughter were watching — Garforth Town AFC — later responded to the tweet, saying, “That’s such a brilliant photo.” And @WomenInFootball tweeted “Great stuff … and why not?! Just look at @LucyOliver_7 & @SianMasseyRef #RoleModels #WomeninFootball” with a several images of women referees.
Other comments included a call to all girls and women to become referees if they are interested, and as well the hope that someone day referees won’t be named by gender, because it won’t matter or be newsworthy to have a women on the sidelines with the whistle.
Walker shares with Babble that he’s actually surprised the tweet is going viral.
“I really had no idea it would be seen by anyone apart from the couple of hundred followers,” he says. “I thought it captured a lovely moment between my daughter and someone she liked.”
But it was more than just a lovely moment. The photo caught fire because of the message it carried — a message that is something girls everywhere clearly still need to hear, even in 2017.
Walker also tells Babble that Clara is “a normal 4-year-old girl,” who “loves pink, black and purple, singing songs and trampolining,” and has wanted to be various things when she grows up, including becoming a doctor and now, a referee’s assistant. The good news is, she’s got loads of time ahead of her to decided. And if she continues to see women in all occupations, she’ll believe more and more that she can truly be anything she wants to be.