by Kristina Chew
â€œI would have gone into science.â€ A student, a humanities major, once said these words to me as we talked about her post-college plans. It was only midway through college that she had learned that the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields offer so many possibilities for careers. I gathered that her high school had not encouraged the study of science, at least among girls.
Here are three ways that scientists, engineers and women in the tech world are seeking to ensure that girls donâ€™t find themselves with such regrets.
At Stanford,Â Debbie Sterling was one of 181 women in her year to graduate in engineering along with 700 men. Such lopsided numbers are typical;Â asÂ The Atlantic notes, someÂ 90 percent of Americaâ€™s engineers (pdf) are male. AÂ San Francisco-based entrepreneur, Sterling is seeking to change this with a toy calledÂ GoldieBlox.
GoldieBlox isÂ centered around a female engineer character, Goldie. AÂ set comes with five figurines, a construction kit including plastic pieces, a ribbon and a book/app that tells the story of â€œGoldieBlox and the Spinning Machineâ€ with instructionsÂ to build, step by step, a spinning device.Â The book/app is key: Central to Sterlingâ€™s strategy withGoldieBlox is the idea that girls are more likely to become engaged via a story and, in particular, one that involves helping people.
It can be said thatÂ GoldieBlox is playing intoÂ stereotypes about girlsâ€™ preferences for, well, girly things (ribbon) and gender norms. Sterling argues that itâ€™s necessary to meet girls where they are, as she says inÂ The Atlantic:
When you think about how back in the day, most doctors were male. As women began to gain more power, guess who starts to become doctors? Women. Because they love nurturing and caring about people â€” it was an obvious step. I think the same thing will happen with engineering, once we learn what engineering really is and we get beyond the stereotype of a nerdy man sitting alone in a cubicle at a computer. Engineers are solving some of the worldâ€™s biggest problems and helping people.
Read the other two ways:Â http://www.care2.com/causes/3-great-ideas-girls-science.html#ixzz27VLv8ju1
Thanks to Denise Greaves for bringing this item to our attention.