Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared on Sesame Street to give viewers a lesson on what is and is not a suitable career goal, according to an article in TIME Monday.
When the Sesame Street character, Abby, told Sotomayor that she aspired to be a princess, Sotomayor told her that a princess was not a viable career choice and that a career was “something that you train for and prepare for and plan on doing for a long time,” according to TIME. Sotomayor then encouraged Abby to pursue a career in teaching, law, engineering, medicine or science instead.
It is encouraging to see Sotomayor, a powerful female, appear on a children’s television show and discuss career goals.Between the lack of strong, female role models in a number of television programs, to the media’s tendency to shape people’s views on what aspirations are appropriate for each gender, American society continues to project gender-biased ideas of what defines success to children. Tuning into Sotomayor might inspire girls to pursue leadership positions similar to hers.
However, it is important that the career that Sotomayor describes is seen as one option, not the only option for children. Whether or not they dream of being princesses, some girls will choose not to pursue certain careers. Those people should not be looked down upon because they do not fit Sotoymayor’s definition of what a career is.
Viewers should examine how effective Sotomayor’s appeal is in inspiring children. Despite that very few of the Sesame Street characters are traditional role models — the Cookie Monster indulges in junk food and Oscar lives in a trash can — her comment opens the door to critique other fictional characters. If a princess isn’t a “good role model,” then what other fictional characters might be portrayed as poor role models? It is important to prove to children that they can possess highly professional careers as long as role models stress that those are not their only choices.