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Posts Tagged ‘equality’

Women + Science = Awesome

August 11, 2010 1 comment

My undergraduate physics class had about 30 students who got their B.Sc. at the same time as me.

Only 4 of them were women.

But dammit, they were equals every single step of the way. We studied together, we wrote tests together, and we got drunk after we wrote tests together.

I have heard of a time when women studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) was frowned upon. They were ignored by their peers and were not taken seriously.

Boy, how times have changed.

But unfortunately, there is still a large gender gap in the physical sciences. Although women are considered equals, enrollment numbers, particularly in Engineering, are still dominated by males. Recruiting programs have been set up to try and get more women into Engineering (although being the only girl in a class full of engineers probably has its advantages in terms of attention received). And while the number of women studying physics is climbing, it is climbing slowly.

So what is the solution? How do we get more women interested in science and technology?

I think a big part of it will be letting young girls know that its OK to like science. There are probably a huge number of girls who would rather play with chemistry sets than barbie dolls, but feel strange doing so; especially when its only the boys playing with toys like that.

While I have never been a girl myself (though I was called one repeatedly in elementary school), I imagine its not easy for girls interested in science to grow up in a culture of many girls who don’t.  Even though we have come a long way in terms of equality, I think STEM still has a stigma as being for “Boys Only”.

So how do we get the word out that science is for everybody? The internet is a great resource that, up until a decade or so ago, was not available.

For example, a dear friend of mine from University has a blog called Technolochick. This is a site written by women for women who are interested in technology. Its a great idea for a blog and you should really check it out.

Celebrity involvement never hurts either. Amy Poehler, SNL alumnus and star of ‘Parks and Recreation‘, currently helps run a website called ‘Smart Girls at the Party‘  which takes an entertaining approach to encourage girls to follow their passions in STEM.

So ladies, don’t be shy. If you love science, say so! If you want to study it, do so!

And even though I considered all those in my class as equals, if one of the girls batted her eyes at me, I was probably more likely to give her my answers to the homework problems.

So you have that going for you as well.