Ideas that bind #89 #cong18


There are lots of ideas in the world. Ideas we live our lives by. They influence the decisions we make and those we don’t. They affect every aspect of our lives; relationships, work, family, health care and society. But what if these ideas are not true? What would happen if we revaluated them, broke away from these old frameworks. What possibilities could we create?

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. What ideas do you live by?
  2. What known-knowns have been passed down to you?
  3. How can we move past these ideas?
  4. Is it time to cut the ties?

About Mary Carty:

Mary Carty is an entrepreneur with a background in the arts, education and technology. Over the past decade she founded two startups and was a BAFTA Interactive finalist. Mary is the cofounder of Outbox Incubator, the first ever incubator for young women in STEM aged 11 to 22. As Executive Director at Blackstone Launchpad NUI Galway, she oversaw the establishment of an entrepreneurship programme open to students, staff and alumni. Recently, Mary represented Ireland on the International Visitors Leadership Program with the U.S. Department of State, focusing on small business and entrepreneurship policy.

Contacting Mary Carty:

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By Mary Carty

If I said pilot, landscape, tree, what do you see in your mind’s eye?

Did you see a man in uniform; lush green fields, a blue sky and a tall green tree?

Sometimes our ideas get stuck.

We come to a place that is so conditioned by our upbringing, or location in the world, and societal views that we hardly ever stop to take stock. We take on board the received wisdom, the known-knowns and proceed to build our values on top of them. Like a foundation stone.

But there is a problem with this. Our idea about the world, how it is made and came into being, is not founded on truth. In fact, most of these truths are no more than mirages. Figments of superstition and hearsay, accepted as truth and right. In many ways, say it often enough and it becomes binding.

I’m fascinated how these ideas about race, gender, work, the environment, ethics and relationships become so ingrained. Let’s have a few examples here. Women are emotional, men don’t cry, boys will be boys, girls love dolls. The list goes on.

These ideas are passed down generation to generation with huge consequences for society and individuals. Girls, supposedly not having the aptitude for maths, are discouraged from entering STEM fields. Men and boys often find it difficult to express their feelings, leading to much mental suffering and isolation.

Roles and responsibilities are mapped out based on these ideals. Mom looks after the children, Dad provides for the home. These ideas impact on healthcare, public policy, justice and education. It is well documented that women receive less pain medication than men of similar body weight. And women have to fight harder for their pain to be acknowledged and treated in the first place.

It’s telling in 2018 we are still battling these biases and it is no easy task to turn the ship around. Sure, we are making some progress. Men stay home more as primary caregivers and women are progressing in their careers. But the pace of change is too slow. We need to tackle the biases at the heart of these ideas. Bring them out into the light and to look at each one in turn.

When these ideas are so totally ingrained in a society, it’s difficult to have conversations to reflect and accept our role in perpetuating them. How many of us make decisions by referring back to these ideas, mostly unconsciously. A car bought for a nephew, a doll bought for a niece; a question about childcare to your friend Marie, never for her partner Dave. The assumption that your female colleagues will look after the Christmas party because they always have.

It’s time we made an assessment of these ideas.

Maybe it’s time to stop handing down truisms to the next generation. Ban phrases like boys will be boys in your home. Take turns note taking at work. Have a roster for the Christmas party. Sit down with your significant other and talk about care giving for your children and elderly parents. Don’t make assumptions about others’ plans. Ask questions of both genders. Include everyone. Don’t stop asking yourself what you really DO believe in and why and where these beliefs come from.

These ideas have had us in their thrall for far too long. It’s time we cut the ties.

And if we have the courage to do so, what kind of society could we create? What new, more expansive and inclusive ideas would emerge? How could these new ideas support all of us to live better lives? It’s a question worth considering.

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