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Encouraging girls in math and science


Replies to: Encouraging girls in math and science

  • BestfriendsgirlBestfriendsgirl Registered User Posts: 935 Member
    You couldn't pay me enough to work on Wall Street.
    You couldn't pay me enough to do anything remotely related to STEM. That's why I hate these "girls and STEM" threads so much. I think all kids should be encouraged in the academic disciplines in which their talents lie. If that's a STEM field, fine. If not, that's fine too. IMHO, many girls are getting STEM shoved at them like teaching and nursing (technically a STEM field) were 40 years ago, and in it's own way, it's just as bad. We forget that some girls (and boys) are just not STEM people, never have been and never will be.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    You could not pay me enough to live in NYC. No chance to work on Wall Street then.
    On the other hand there is NO such thing as no STEM people. It is the same as saying that there some who cannot learn English. While it is true, we are talking about average able kids. Among people who are able to learn English or any other language, every single one could learn math and sciences if they ar5e taught correctly which is done in many many places (abroad) outside of the USA. Just pay attention to those exchange students. Despite of poor English, they are ususally placed in the advanced math / science classes. Is it accident? Nope it is normal usual pricatice that everybody is aware at the schools that have exchange students. So, as long as you deal with regular ordinary human brain, it could be trained in math / science in the same way as it is trained in language. So, the blame is on the very poor k - 12 program and a poorly trained teachers. No special ability is required if you are not talking about genius level, and we are not. Just the same ordinary ability as required in language and the language skills are by far much more complicated than math and sciences.
  • PhantomVirgoPhantomVirgo Registered User Posts: 1,088 Senior Member
    A lot of STEM fields women I know are not at all "girly". They wear their hair very short and wash-and-wear. They dress in jeans, etc, and often don't wear makeup. Whether they are afraid of not being taken seriously or are just expressing their natural personalities, I don't know.

    I can't speak for all women in STEM of course, but for me personally I've always been like this. Most of the girls I know in CS are like this too, but for the ones that aren't nobody honestly cares in my experience. Past the intro classes, your peers care way more about being able to perform the task at hand than your appearance or gender.

    Anyway, just some anecdotes from a woman double majoring in CS and linguistics:

    I've always shown interest in science more than the humanities, besides the fact that I liked writing, languages (the structural aspects much more than the cultural or just speaking the language), and music. Of which, writing and music are both hobbies for me and I ended up with one of my majors in linguistics, so it's not like I abandoned those interests. But I digress.

    I wouldn't say I was either discouraged or encouraged by my parents to go into STEM. My parents were the type where they didn't particularly care what my interests were; so long as it wasn't destructive, they supported any interests that I showed and are doing the same thing with my younger sister. Being as most of that interest ended up in STEM, naturally they encouraged that. But they weren't doing it specifically.

    In my family, very few actually go to college. Neither of my parents went to college, so when I told them I was interested in going they were much more excited about that choice than they were expecting a particular major (I went in as linguistics). When I decided to add on a CS major after taking a few classes, they couldn't have been more supportive. Actually, now that I think about it, from most people I've gotten way more encouragement for continuing CS than I have any kind of discouragement.

    As far as group projects, the only classes where I've encountered issues (I'm a rising junior, for the record) were the intro classes. In those cases, I had some guys, though still a minority, ignoring me and other girls because, well, obviously we're only taking the class for GE credit and to impress guys, right? We couldn't possibly be taking the class because we actually think it's interesting... Some of them kept that attitude, then after a couple quarters ended up dropping out of the major. Any others that were doing it and stuck around quickly adjusted their attitude when they realized that yes, some girls are legitimately interested in this stuff. By the time I was a few classes in it got to the point of "you would only go this far if you were actually interested and had some clue what you were doing", regardless of who it was, so people generally don't think twice about a girl (or two, or three) in their group at that point. As I mentioned above, by the time you're past the "weeders" your peers care far more about you being able to do what you need to do than anything else. I don't know, maybe that'll change in the next two years of classes. I'm guessing it won't change very much, though.

    It may be worth noting that I spent most of my childhood in the San Jose area, so even if my parents weren't in STEM related careers I had several friends whose parents were both engineers.
  • BestfriendsgirlBestfriendsgirl Registered User Posts: 935 Member
    On the other hand there is NO such thing as no STEM people. It is the same as saying that there some who cannot learn English.
    Maybe, but that doesn't mean they have to like it or make it their career.
  • Niquii77Niquii77 Registered User Posts: 10,104 Senior Member
    From my understanding, the push for girls into STEM isn't just for ALL girls, but for those who have the aptitude and interest.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    "Maybe, but that doesn't mean they have to like it or make it their career"
    -Agree with this one. Just as some do not like writing while others do not appreciate poetry and third group does not like reading at all (including me and my kids). Liking it is one thing, using it is another. People who do not like to read, are still reading out of necessity, people who do not like to write, are still writing. You do not need to like math (which is nothing but a universal language) to use it. And no UG student is required to know this language called math at the genius level, all you need a very elementary level of it. No special aptitude or interest is required for this level, just a good instruction, the instruction of the same level as an English instruction. And that part is totally missing, non-existant with even top caliber students realize in many cases that if they want to be successful in engineering program, then they better pursue additional math instructions (on their own on-line, thru tutoring, whatever). What I am saying is that absolutely every single HS graduate from every singlke HS in a country should be able to puruse engineering in college if they desire to do so, the HS should provdie sufficient math background for this goal, no matter what HS they went to, their gender or race. It is not a dream by any streatch, it is a reality in many countries, including some third world country, but it is not a reality in the USA. Here you have to have some special talent, aptitude, call it whatever. Wrong, you do not!!! All you need is correct program and an average teacher who is capapble of teaching this program.
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Registered User Posts: 6,755 Senior Member
    MiamiDAP wrote:
    All you need is correct program and an average teacher who is capable of teaching this program.
    I think you also need a cultural attitude where saying "I'm not good at math" or "I can't do math" would be looked at with the same reaction we would give someone who said "I'm not good at reading" or "I can't read". We tend to be very accepting of innumeracy in this country and I hear people saying these things all the time. How many times on these very forums?
  • CheeringsectionCheeringsection Registered User Posts: 2,401 Senior Member
    Sylvan8798 I agree! I have started that cultural change in a small way by not allowing "girls are not good at math" attitudes at home. My DS and DD are in the same accelerated math program. Also I have an agreement with the mothers of some of my DD's friends to discourage that attitude whenever we hear it. We are entering those critical JH years and know we must be especially encouraging now.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    I completely disagree with "I think you also need a cultural attitude where saying "I'm not good at math" "
    -Yes, you need that in some countries where they actually teach a bit higher than very elementary math that is taught in k - 12 in the USA. You do not need this for getting all As in ALL math classes in the american k -12. All you need is to do you homework. That is exactly what told my kids and grandkids when they were 5 y o. I just told them, if you want an A in any class in the amrican k - 12, just do your homework. Mission was accomplished for my D. all thru graduating from college actually. So far so good for 13 -15 y o grandkids. Just talk to my grandS few days ago. That is exactly what he said, I am just doing my homework. No aptitude, talent or genius, not in this school, maybe somewhere else, here the level is shamefully low and does not prepare them for college at all, even the best and so called the most rigorous private HSs do not do it.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,095 Senior Member
    Miami, you can encourage women in math and science without dissing the schools. If you thought opportunities were so awful, why didn't you just move back to the countries that offer better schooling?
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,772 Senior Member
    @MiamiDAP "here the level is shamefully low and does not prepare them for college at all, even the best and so called the most rigorous private HSs do not do it."

    This may be true in many schools, but the best students at the most rigorous public and private high schools really require their students to perform at a very high level.

    At many of these high schools, the homework load for top students is probably 25 hours per week and the classes are on a curve. They are put under a lot of pressure. then they need to have ECs, community service, and prepare for standardized tests. They have to be highly motivated, and have a level of ability. It is incredible what is expected of these kids who gain admission to top colleges with no hook. Many of them know more at the end of high school than a typical student will know by the end of college.

  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 57,370 Senior Member
    edited July 2014
    The level of math needed to complete HS and the level of math needed to succeed in engineering are not the same. For example, for a student to succeed in engineering, they will need to complete and understand calculus. This is not a HS graduation requirement.

    Engineering is hard, and to succeed one must have an interest, skill and ability to learn and understand this higher level math. I like art, but I am terrible at it.Cant draw a straight line with a ruler. No degree of training, lessons, etc is going to turn me into an accomplished artist. There are some underlying innate abilities that come into play. Its not as simple as "have a good teacher".
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,095 Senior Member
    My DD successfully got an engineering degree and never took calculus in high school. She took calculus and a number of other higher level math courses with great understanding in college.

    Her HS offered many higher level courses in math but we declined to accelerate her in math.

  • kiddiekiddie Registered User Posts: 3,453 Senior Member
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 32,048 Senior Member
    @jym626, you might be surprised at what you could learn. I took a basic drawing class in college with a guy who was brilliant. He could teach anyone to draw. His first and last assignments each semester were self-portraits and the improvement among those with what he called "unpracticed hands" were phenomenal. I learned a lot from him too.
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