My fellow Mad-Scientist Americans,
The European Commission recently launched a public campaign aimed at getting girls interested in science. Their tactic? Add some pink ribbons and declare that “it’s a girl thing.” It’s sassy, cloying, and kind of annoying. Is this the right way to go?
It’s no secret that women are still not equally represented in scientific fields, despite the fact that women own half of the best brains on the planet (and maybe more, depending on whom you talk to).
Actually, there is one exception to science fields lacking a feminine touch: medical science. Medical schools (and, indeed, all colleges across this country) are seeing a huge imbalance of qualified female applicants.
Why are boys trailing behind in preparedness for higher education? Some pundits argue that we, as a society, tolerate much more goofing-off from male children and hold them to a lower standard. Others suggest that boys are, by nature, poorly geared for the passive learning expected in many of our classrooms today. Or that boys are more distracted by video games, sports, and other pass-times that drag down academic efforts.
Well, that’s a topic for another post, but I wanted to bring it up because it shows that despite the disproportionately HIGH number of qualified female students, we’re still seeing a disproportionately LOW number going for math and science degrees. The numbers are getting better, but they’re still not satisfactory.
Back to the issue
So the question is, how do we get more girls interested into science?
I’ll admit, equalizing gender participation in science was an ulterior motive when I wrote Mad Science Institute, which is why I created strong female characters who were on equal footing with their male counterparts in the realm of science. Others have attempted to popularize the notion in similar ways, such as Claudia the hacker from Warehouse 13 or Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory, or… um… hmmm. I’m coming up with blanks. I’m sure there must be plenty more examples, right? Help me think of some!
The real question(s)
The real question might be: what keeps girls out of science in the first place? Are they learning unspoken prejudices from their parents and teachers? Do they simply lack role-models in scientific fields? If we could answer that, we’d be much better of
But the even more real question might be: how do we get MORE kids of BOTH GENDERS into science? In The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman points out America’s acute need for scientists and engineers. Tech firms aren’t hiring foreign workers because they want to, they’re hiring them because America isn’t supplying enough of its own brain-power any more.
If elected president…
Science education—and, indeed, all education—will become THE central focus of my administration. Why aren’t the other candidates discussing the gender gap in science careers—or the general gap in science careers for both genders? Write to your favorite politician to ask them about this issue. If they aren’t willing to address this, it’s time to find a new candidate.
AMERICA CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE ITS (future) MAD SCIENTISTS ANY LONGER
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