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You’ve heard of arranged marriages? Meet “arranged schooling”

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

It’s not uncommon for girls to find themselves limited in their options for career and professional development. Where boys are free to choose their motivations, behavior, dress code, education, career, family and life, girls feel way less freedom. In many Russian households, the following conversations are repeated:

Daughter: Dad, I want to be an engineer!

Dad: No, my little princess, you must be an economist. Your mom also wanted to fly an aircraft, but her parents were wise and sent her to be an economist. And look at her now! She’s well known, respected and wealthy.

Daughter: Is she happy?

Dad: Who needs to be happy when you have money and respect?

There are countless articles about “the best careers for women, or where women can go after school”. The choices usually range from lawyer and economist, to teacher and doctor. Sometimes, there are mentions of professions in tourism, sport, engineering and other technical professions, but with this comes the condition that “men dominate these professions and only choose them if you have the ‘right’ mind set, skills and potential”. It is clear that the choice is not between what you want and what makes you happy, but what you’ve been told to want and what you’re suited for.

What is worrisome is that this advice also comes from well-known organizations, including a Moscow-based organization that helps students in their academic and career dilemmas. They proudly state that they’ve been doing an incredible job for over twelve years, and have more than 20,000 happy clients. The dark side is that, along with happy students, there are thousands of those who hate their parents for putting them into classrooms where boring professors teach topics they are not passionate about, all in the pursuit of “money and respect”. These girls grow up to hate themselves and their lives where there is no room to do what they want.

Thanks to the internet, we can read the positive stories of women who broke the cycle, but these are few and far between. Some girls still have the time and the passion to be musicians, engineers, copywriters, artists, veterinarians and psychologists. Unfortunately, some will never be who they wanted to be, as there are 100 professions that are banned for women (down from the 456 set in the early 2000s).

Thus, the “arranged schooling” continues, and transcends gender. When our founder, Ivan, was 12, his parents sent him to music school. “I wanted to play piano, sax, or the violin,” he recalls, “But the examiners had a different opinion. They thought that school doesn’t have enough accordionists, and as a boy, I’d be perfect in handling the 40-pounds instrument.” Unfortunately, it was a huge mistake. “I hated every class,” Ivan recalls. He never did learn to play an instrument.

Ivan co-founded Girls Education Nation to support girls in their own academic and career adventures: “Nothing will make me happier than to know that our students have more confidence in their decisions than I had fifteen years ago.”

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