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Not my mother’s world: No stereotypes for Olympian Julie Chu

The Chu family in Vail, CO, in 1989. (l-r) Mother Mirium Chu (l) and father Wah Chu stand behind their children (l-r) Christina, Julie and Richard.
The Chu family in Vail, CO, in 1989. (l-r) Mother Mirium Chu (l) and father Wah Chu stand behind their children (l-r) Christina, Julie and Richard.

Julie Chu, 32, is a member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey team.

I would say one of the greatest changes in my life compared to my mother’s growing up is being less confined by stereotypes. In general, when my mother was growing up, girls and young women had to fall into more stereotypical roles. The mindset was that there were jobs that were more suited for women, and as far as the household, women were supposed to be the caretakers.

For me, my mom and my dad made sure that I didn’t grow up restricted by stereotypes, but rather having the choice and the opportunity to pursue anything I wanted. If I wanted to try something new and “out of the box,” then they supported me as long as I committed to that activity for a given time period.

Julie Chu during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games Closing Ceremony last February in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Julie Chu during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games Closing Ceremony last February in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

This openness by my parents made the difference in allowing me to find my passion and create my dreams. At a time when girls were not playing hockey, my parents supported my decision to play hockey, not knowing that it would lead to four Olympic Games. I sometimes wonder the direction my life would have taken if my parents had closed this door and said, “Girls don’t play hockey.”

But thankfully they said, “Yes.” And in doing so, they allowed me to grow up believing that I had every possibility at my finger tips as long as I was committed and prepared to work hard for what I wanted. They made me believe that my life wasn’t going to be determined simply because I was an Asian American or a girl. They wanted me to forge my own path in life and find my own passions.

 

Women told us about how their lives differed from their mothers’, particularly in the professional space. Read about how expectations, choices and opportunities changed across generations: Not my mother’s world.

 

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C., where she web produces for The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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