Dear Schiphol airport,
I’m writing this open letter to you both as a manager in the IT-industry and as a father. I’m humbly asking for your assistance in one of our (as in everyones) most critical challenges. I’m asking you since I am frequently a customer of yours. I’ve travelled through your airport more than fifty times the past couple of years.
In our company, we work hard every day trying to recruit new female IT-talent and we actively work on improving gender diversity in leadership positions. There are many reasons why this is difficult and I believe in addressing all of them, always, and as soon as we see them.
One of the reasons why it’s difficult to solve the gender diversity challenges is most likely found in how we shape our young ones. This is what happens every day, also at Schiphol airport. In one of your stores, you are allowing/making an unfortunate distinction between boys and girls. See the photos below. Note the sign saying “Girls”. (Not long ago there was also a sign saying “Boys” hanging over the building/robotics section.)
By allowing/making this distinction, you help shape the unfair and unfortunate norm that girls should play with dolls and boys should build and learn about electronics/robotics. This is where the IT-industry’s challenge starts. This is where girls are told to stay away from robotics and where boys are told that playing with dolls is not OK.
I would love to see, when I return back to Schiphol, that this store makes no more such gender distinctions. I would be very happy to see you/the store owner arrange the products in other categories, instead. There are many other to choose from (age, interests, brands, arts, craft), without using stereotypical and polarising characteristics (blue/pink or doll/action).