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Encouraging girls in math and science

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Replies to: Encouraging girls in math and science

  • nanotechnologynanotechnology 2503 replies23 threads Senior Member
    CS in the US actually used to have a lot more women in it: 37% of CS graduates were female in the 1980s, compared to about 12% now. So what changed in the US to make this field less female friendly as it emerged?
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  • BestfriendsgirlBestfriendsgirl 931 replies4 threads Member
    I must be the exception that proves the rule here. My mom loved math and always wanted to be a CPA. She tried to encourage me in math but I wanted no part of it - I found it repetitive and dull. I also had bad instruction. My sixth grade teacher was abysmal and for all intents and purposes, I skipped that year, including math. In seventh grade, we started out with an excellent math teacher, until she had a heart attack. Some of the subs were better than others but none were very good. By eighth grade, I was done, and never did well at math after that.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7892 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Disclaimer: I haven't read all these posts. But I did see some of the ads recently and I liked them.

    There was one ad with a little girl on the beach who picks up some weird creature/seaweed/shell and mom/dad is saying "put that down!". And she does. My reaction is always "but that was SO cool!"

    I didn't experience that scenario as a child--my dad was the one who brought seaweed/fish/shells home and put it in an aquarium to see what hatched out of it (my mom wasn't nearly as enthusiastic I can assure you). We had bucketfuls of mud that we sifted through. We ran a regular "catch and release" program at our house. We got messy (dad) and had to stay clean (mom). Always a balancing act but dad won the science/experimentation front. But even mom was okay as long as the major mess was outside. Thank goodness for the garden hose.

    Now what I see in young parents is the "that is full of germs", "dirty, put it down", "eww, gross--don't touch it" attitude. I don't know if Purell ads (chlorox, bounty, etc., etc., etc.) and germ phobia has overtaken things but it seems pervasive. I have witnessed it over and over again. There does seem to be a need to counteract the attitude. Sometimes I worry about our own immune systems being compromised by the advertising world's need to sterilize us (hopefully a hyperbole but you never know!)

    On the math front--when I learned my niece hadn't learned the multiplication tables at age 16 and felt she didn't have to--because they were "in a book"? And the school never required it because "we have calculators"? We could hang math ANYTHING up from there. For everybody in that system. And that was 10 years ago. My kids weren't allowed the luxury of a lax school system--we did a good bit of in-home teaching and private school instruction along the way--but I truly hate that the public system seems to be failing in so many aspects.
    edited June 2014
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  • gouf78gouf78 7892 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    I just said all that and saw another ad about using power tools. LOL. My "forward" dad never wanted his "girls" to get hurt but somehow thought guys were exempt. I remember when he turned the router equipment over to me and all the safety advice he had. I was over 30--I think I could read the instructions. And already owned all sorts of power tools. I had to talk him into giving it to me...
    edited June 2014
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I did not read an article. But I do not know how many out there are aware of the fact that girls outnumber boys at many Maerican Medical schools. If this does not require science, I do not know what. Just a comment.....maybe we need to start looking at improving teaching of math scinece in k - 12 and much better prepare EVERYBODY who wants to pursueany filed related to math / science instead of focusing on outdated "girl" agenda. As for references, my D. and most of her girl friends are at various Medical Schools and my GrandD also thinking about it. Math and science classes do not scare girls specifically, k - 12 just do a really bad job for ALL kids in the USA in regard to teaching math and science. Looking at the names in D's apartment that houses many medical students, there are lots and lots of Chinese names there, not many american names at all. This is a real shame.
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  • mathmommathmom 33220 replies163 threads Senior Member
    @MiamiDAP this thread has acknowledged that plenty of women are going into medicine. The question is what is happening in the other sciences. Where are the girls in computer science, pure math and physics? Poor teaching doesn't seem to keep the boys away.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6951 replies143 threads Senior Member
    mathmom wrote:
    Most doctors I know would not say that medicine is a job with good hours and low stress. I think there are a lot of other math heavy professions that would be much less stressful - actuaries, accountants, most engineering, a lot of computer programming.
    Structural engineering is one of the high-stress fields. Still glad I walked away after the last time I was laid off - 20 years ago this week!
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  • mathmommathmom 33220 replies163 threads Senior Member
    I imagine structural engineering varies. I know Mom and Pop firms and the biggest stress is they go through the same business cycles as the building industry. I think it's also a matter of what sort of stress you like - dh is supposed to get his entire salary off grants. Since NIH and NSF budgets have been slashed it's been increasing difficult to get those grants. A lot of professors at his school are receiving crisis support, but it's anyone's guess when the crisis will be over, since Congress doesn't seem very interested in funding science research.
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  • Niquii77Niquii77 9994 replies110 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    These are just anecdotes:



    Growing up, I gravitated towards building things. Legos, Lincoln Logs, and the like were my favorites. I had an extensive Barbie and Bratz doll collection fit for any scenario I could imagine. I would frequently try to concoct "meals" or whatever items I could think up to make their "lives" real as possible. I would gather play-dough and paints to make things look like beef stew or lotion and pastels to make hair dye. Anything and everything. It's just what I enjoyed.

    I remember this one year, I was dying for a remote control helicopter. I think I wanted to be able to strap a makeshift hook to fly their "luggage" for the room to the car, even a remote control dinosaur to pull some of the car to get them out of the "mud". It was pretty outlandish, but my mom was dead set against it. She didn't understand why I wanted some of the "boy" toys. I know she didn't mean it, but I don't think she understood my interests as I was pretty different from my sister growing up. She didn't understand why I wasn't content with plastic play food or why I wanted to make every piece of food that we were using for tea out of play-dough or clay.

    Half-way through my K-12 education, I was moved up into accelerated math. I don't really understand why as I did not consider myself super smart like those around me, but things worked out. In high school I did not experience any discouraging words or actions, neither did the girls around me. The top performing girls were strong and determined.

    One thing that is hard to swallow in studying engineering are the personalities. I'm unsure if it's just the type that engineering attracts, but, as a girl, I've experienced some annoying instances where what I've said has been thrown out the window. But then again, that happens at work, too, so maybe it's not just engineering...
    edited June 2014
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  • furrydogfurrydog 224 replies2 threads Junior Member
    >>>On the math front--when I learned my niece hadn't learned the multiplication tables at age 16 and felt she didn't have to--because they were "in a book"?

    Surely, you jest? If this is true, I am moving out of the country!
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  • ConsolationConsolation 22898 replies184 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    In our public school they learned the multiplication tables in third grade.

    So you don't need to leave the country--you just need to move to a place with a good public school system.

    Although I must say that in my experience the teaching of math and science by emphasizing brute memorization and regurgitation is one of the reasons many bright kids were turned off.
    edited June 2014
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11022 replies24 threads Senior Member
    why are girls scared of worms?
    Stop generalizing, I love worms since I was 5. I play with worms all the time now, the worms are composting my rotten vegetables. I just wear gloves when I play with them.
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11022 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    The college can teach something, but it doesn't mean that the student will become adept at it.
    Can you tell me why anyone has to be adept at proofs, unless you are a math professors. I'm an engineering for close to 35 years and I never had to do proofs outside of school.
    It's ridiculous to me that, despite having progressed well beyond Algebra 2, you end up blaming your D's issues on her Algebra 2 teacher. Any deficit she had from Algebra 2 should have been well addressed somewhere in the courses AFTER that.
    Because math is built on previous knowledge. And the deficit may and may not be addressed after the class. She was taught my this teacher for two years, geometry and algebra 2. I talked to the principal and he didn't want to move my kid to another class. So when D2 was choosing high school I moved her to another school in the district which taught her math properly. It was not a surprise, one graduate with a MS in math from University of Wisconsin, which is known for math and one graduated from UCSD which is also known for math.

    The point I was trying to make is that when kids are in high school, it's important that they taught well from a teacher who knows the subject, otherwise they loose interest in the subject regardless of how they were brought up by the parents.

    D2 did loose interest in Physics because she was taught by a lousy physics teacher, all the kids at her school had issue with him. I checked his credential, he graduated from UCLA with a degree in Physics, and according to another CC person(ULCAri), UCLA has a terrible physics department. So that explains why he didn't understand the stuff well enough to explain it to her.
    edited June 2014
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  • nanotechnologynanotechnology 2503 replies23 threads Senior Member
    The reverse is also true - I got excited about physics because I had a great high school physics teacher. And the reason I chose neuroscience is because of my high school psychology classes.
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  • Niquii77Niquii77 9994 replies110 threads Senior Member
    I was dead set on chemical engineering from my chemistry teacher. It wasn't until I graduated that I realized I couldn't stand it enough to make a career out of it. ;)
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  • mathmommathmom 33220 replies163 threads Senior Member
    Juliexoxo - it's certainly possible that women's brains are wired differently. Suggesting that got Larry Summers in a lot of hot water a few years back. I saw the numbers change a lot for women doctors and architects in my lifetime. I've seen the numbers go down for women in computer science. My boys played with tea sets when they were young, but once they got to school they got socialized to run around with guns instead.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9473 replies83 threads 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."

    Lots of male engineers tend toward casual style too. Casual habits are pretty typical for logically minded folks of both genders. Some of them (including me) may think that it is rather silly to fret over appearance as much as the typical American. But really it's all a matter of personal taste... no right or wrong.

    Often people seem to be intent on expressing current trendy styles. Nothing wrong with that if it' makes them feel more secure. But to me it seems to be more following the crowd than "expressing their natural personalities".
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  • BestfriendsgirlBestfriendsgirl 931 replies4 threads Member
    In our public school they learned the multiplication tables in third grade.
    In my Catholic school, we had to write out our own multiplication tables through the 12s. We got to decorate them and Sister pasted them on cardboard for us - 1-6 on one side and 7-12 on the other. I still have mine.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6951 replies143 threads Senior Member
    DrGoogle wrote:
    Can you tell me why anyone has to be adept at proofs, unless you are a math professors. I'm an engineering for close to 35 years and I never had to do proofs outside of school.
    You've escaped the point altogether now.
    Because math is built on previous knowledge.
    Your previous statement was:
    I think maybe she didn't understand fully Algebra 2 and according to D2's math teacher, he told us that Algebra 2 is the basis for Calc BC.
    Algebra is a skill, and isn't really a theoretical basis for Calculus. Algebra skills are essential for success in Calculus, as well as physics and any other applied math field.
    The point I was trying to make is that when kids are in high school, it's important that they taught well from a teacher who knows the subject, otherwise they loose interest in the subject regardless of how they were brought up by the parents.

    D2 did loose interest in Physics because she was taught by a lousy physics teacher, all the kids at her school had issue with him. I checked his credential, he graduated from UCLA with a degree in Physics, and according to another CC person(ULCAri), UCLA has a terrible physics department. So that explains why he didn't understand the stuff well enough to explain it to her.
    Were any of her problems NOT the fault of her teachers or the schools they came from? This isn't even worthy of comment.
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  • mathyonemathyone 4193 replies34 threads Senior Member
    My point about fashion earlier is that we send two messages to girls. One is that being pretty is good and they should care about fashion. The other is that STEMy people are not fashionable. Look how the math nerds and computer geeks are usually portrayed in the media.
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