Kim Holleman writes: It seems like every single day I read about a new report, initiative, competition, or program geared toward getting more women involved in science, or investigating why there are not more women in science to begin with.
Just a couple of weeks ago, on October 3, it was announced on culture and technology blogs such as The Mary Sue and Io9 that “Natalie Portman and Marvel are joining together in hopes of inspiring an entire generation of Jane Fosters (Jane Foster, a physicist character played by Natalie Portman ). The Ultimate Mentor Adventure is a program/contest that wants to connect girls 14 and up to meet, work with and learn from the most successful women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).”
This seems on the heels of Natalie Angier’s fascinating article in The New York Times on September 2, 2013, “Mystery of the Missing Women in Science“. In it she quotes studies proving girls do as well as boys in math and science and at times even do better, but they still can’t explain why there are so few women in science in comparison to men.
Joseph Price of Brigham Young University and his colleagues reported this year that the gender gap in high-stakes math competitions disappeared simply by adding more rounds to a contest. Boys did better than girls in single-shot events, the researchers said, but when put through multiple rematches the boys fumbled, allowing the girls to catch up and often surpass them. … Girls also excel in the classroom. Nationwide, their grade point average in high school math and science is 2.76 out of 4, compared with 2.56 for boys.
And yet, right when he is poised to name the answer to the mystery, it hangs in air to the bafflement of Mr. Derriso — a colleague of Joseph Price, who is getting his doctoral dissertation in psychology: “If boys and girls are equally interested in math and science and feel equally confident about their abilities,” he wondered, “why this humongous difference in intent? I don’t have an answer for that.”
Well, I do — or at least I’ve got one of them.
It’s as simple as representation. This is what a visual thinker will tell you — because the answers aren’t in the data. The answers aren’t in the test results. The answers are in the visual narrative our children are super saturated in daily. All it takes is a single YouTube viewing of little girl Riley‘s scathing critique of the hot pink toy isle to understand that children learn by seeing. If all you show girls is one thing, then it’s not rocket science to wonder why there are no girl scientists when girls are just as good at science as their male counterparts. Read the rest of this entry »