The way we try to recruit girls into STEM fields is all wrong. We typically compare them to some great woman or someone that has gone before them. We are saying, “Hey, you can be like Madam Curie or Sally Ride.” It is recruiting by intimidation. We need to change that message. We need to recruit by appealing to WHY we need them in STEM. We NEED you to help make the world a better place We NEED you to help discover the cure for cancer. We NEED you because you have the ability to change the course of humanity for the better.
Good News: Girls Outperform Boys On Science Exam
Bad News: It’s Not Happening Where You Think It Is
15-year-old girls outscored boys on science exams, but not in Western Europe or the Americas. While in Eastern Europe and the Middle East girls abilities seem to exceed those of their male classmates, that doesn’t hold true in the most traditionally “scientific” nations. And that sucks.
We’ve heard this bad news too many times. Girls are underrepresented in the sciences from a young age. Despite their equal interest as youngsters, societal pressures drive a wedge in between them and the performance of their male classmates. When they have to indicate gender on a science exam, they score a full 20% lower than if they don’t. All of this translates to the continued discrimination of of women, overt and incidental, all the way up the ladder of science.
Sometimes I feel tired of repeating it. But we can’t grow tired. As frustrating as it is, every time we continue to call out the problem and raise our fists of fury, it helps raise attention and gain support for change. That change will take a long time, because scientific “establishment” moves like molasses, but only a steady push will make it budge.
I know I’m preaching to the choir when I talk to all of you, but remember this: Every time you share science on Tumblr or Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or wherever you hang out on the internet, then that’s one more chance to reach out and grab someone who doesn’t think they’re “into” science. It’s one more chance to give a 14-year-old girl a boost of confidence (or anyone who needs a boost, for that matter). This isn’t something that can be done by a few. We need to spread this like the most contagious virus the world’s ever seen: An infectious curiosity!
It’s well-established that women face social pressures that push them away from pursuing science as a life passion. It’s also well-established that women who do stay in science face discrimination all the way up the ladder. Women are 50 percent of the population but hold less than a quarter of STEM jobs.
Young ladies, HuffPo has your back. Check it out:
Dear Geek Girls,
We were there once — making a decision about which career path to choose can be a source of great anxiety, especially in tough economic times like these. But having someone on your side to coach you through, and give you practical advice without judgement can make all the difference in the world.
HuffPo Science is offering young ladies 14-21 the chance to be mentored by a female scientist, to show you the ropes and keep you motivated to achieve your goals. Applications are due Jan 31st, so apply here today!
Big round of applause to them for this effort.
There is a new scientific study that shows that women in science do face discrimination on all levels from all scientists… what is important about this for me is that THIS study counts as good enough evidence. Whereas women scientists saying they are discriminated against is not, in and of itself, proof that women scientists are discriminated against. Now, for women scientists who live this discrimination everyday, these numbers matter because their profession and their society demand the numbers in order to deem the reality of this discrimination a Truth. I just hate that it has to be that way. It should be enough that when a lot of women scientists say they face bias in their work, we believe them. That should be good enough evidence. But it’s not because it falls outside the range of what we consider “empirical evidence.” Funny, that.
Jessica Luther (via thefemcritique)
An angle to this that I’ve never considered … that it isn’t enough to accept the word of underrepresented and discriminated women in science (and elsewhere, for that matter) … that we need studies to make it “official”, that is perhaps the greatest example of the work that remains to be done.
Replace “women” with the underrepresented group of your choosing and this applies equally well.
Science: It’s Your Thing, a contest to highlight pro-girl science messages
Like a faint memory of an unpleasant trip to the dentist, many of you may recall the not-so-good (actually, “certifiably awful”) pro-girl-science campaign launched by the European Science Foundation earlier this year, Science: It’s A Girl Thing.
The flirty, lipstick-infused, labcoat-runway-show video that accompanied it went over like flatulence in a house of worship. But I have good news!
The ESF is putting on a contest to pick a new video for the slightly-modified campaign: Science, It’s Your Thing! Groups from all over the EU have submitted their videos, like the one above (my favorite) from Stéphane Debove.
Check out the voting page to watch them all and you can pick your favorites from now until November 28th. These look really good, leaps and bounds beyond the earlier campaign-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of. It shows that it’s not that hard to make women in science look and feel awesome if you do the simple things. Such treat them like three-dimensional living humans.