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Encouraging girls in math and science

Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,772 Senior Member
I was very impressed by this commercial about how parents can unintentionally send the wrong messages to girls abut math and science. It already has over 2 million views. What do you think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP3cyRRAfX0

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Replies to: Encouraging girls in math and science

  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,772 Senior Member
    One person who saw this commented that they did not see what is wrong with telling a girl she is pretty. I have to say that I agree that there is nothing wrong with that, per se. In fact, there is probably nothing wrong with any of the things the parents said in the ad individually.

    I just think it challenges parents to think about the comments that they make to their kids, and the messages that those comments send in aggregate. Many girls are given the message that being pretty is the most important thing by the most well intended people. I am sure that I have been guilty of it at times too, but I do try to be aware of these types of things and improve.

  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 16,676 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    I don't know coming from a family of all engineers...male and female...except me... it's hard to imagine someone would discourage a woman if she was interested. I was never interested in math although my father lobbied hard. My sister was a very pretty engineer and still is...only 1 of 2 in her engineering graduating class concentration in the 70s...she had lots and lots of boyfriends I'll give her that.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    I doubt there is a shortage of girls today pursuing science majors in college. I think a large part of the problem lies with female students disproportionately picking life sciences, rather than physical sciences, engineering, CS. The non-life sciences majors are the ones that provide high-paying jobs w only a bachelors degree.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,251 Super Moderator
    edited June 2014
    I always liked math and my dad was (and still is) a structural engineering professor, but I didn't think of going into the field until he made a comment at a party for his students about my being "the next engineer in the family." I thought, huh, I guess I COULD do that! It's probably a good thing I didn't think about the fact that my spatial abilities are about zero, or I would have picked a different field! I've had to train myself to think in 3D - my brain is flat as a pancake, it feels like.

    My sister was also good at math, but she didn't like it. So she became a teacher.

    I met my future husband in engineering grad school. :)

    My daughter is NOT mathematically inclined at all. She takes honors math, but has to work at it very hard. My older son, on the other hand, is a math whiz, even with his severe mental illness. He blows me away!
  • FlossyFlossy Registered User Posts: 3,121 Senior Member
    A local girl scout troop won our statewide engineering competition. The had two female engineer mentors.
  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte Registered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Is there actually a shortage of women in Math and Science? I thought Science majors were generally about 50/50 gender ratio and Math at something like 1/3 female 2/3 male.

    The commercial was a pretty weird. Wasn't a whole lot to do with Math, Science, or Engineering (not mentioned in the topic title but often associated with). The first one was about getting dirty, not sure how that relates to anything academic. The 2nd one corresponded with possibly marine biology, I don't know if we really need more people in that. The 3rd one was art, I don't even know what they were trying to imply. The 4th one was about using a power drill, so maybe discouraging her from being a mechanic or carpenter but has nothing to do with any academic field.

    Someone's gonna have to dumb this down for me because I'm just not getting the message. Anyone in marketing?
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 16,676 Senior Member
    I thought it was weird also....my parents were born in the 20s...and they never discouraged any of us from doing anything we wanted and they certainly balanced excelling at all academics with caring about our bodies in a healthy way. There are 3 to 4 generations now between my parents and children today. I don't think we as a society 'teach our girls' to be pretty and not get dirty. Maybe some rare pockets of cultures but not in the mainstream. As a marketer the commercial felt very contrived and if it was targeted toward a particular culture that stills keeps the little woman frying the bacon in a dress, it's a mighty small target audience and I really can't figure out who "they' are.
  • YnotgoYnotgo Registered User Posts: 3,935 Senior Member
    Yes, as @GMTplus7‌ said, the big disparity is in Engineering and Computer Science. Here is a graph I say recently that shows how big the difference is depending on the sub-field of STEM: http://www.randalolson.com/2014/06/14/percentage-of-bachelors-degrees-conferred-to-women-by-major-1970-2012/
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,772 Senior Member
    @momofthreeboys " it's a mighty small target audience and I really can't figure out who "they' are."

    I think our opinions on this differ because of our personal experience. You probably have a more progressive family who are more highly educated, and live in a more progressive area. You do not see these things happen, and so you think that the audience is small. I see them happen frequently, so I think the problem is much larger.

    In reality I don't know how big it is, I just know that I see it frequently.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,598 Senior Member
    My sister was also good at math, but she didn't like it. So she became a teacher.

    A math teacher?
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,251 Super Moderator
    ^No, special ed. She's amazing.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,598 Senior Member
    Is there actually a shortage of women in Math and Science? I thought Science majors were generally about 50/50 gender ratio and Math at something like 1/3 female 2/3 male.

    Biological sciences are majority female these days. Chemistry is about even. But other sciences and engineering are heavily male.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,251 Super Moderator
    I am one of two, occasionally three, women when I attend meetings of our state structural engineers' association. I've known a lot of the men for a long time, so I don't feel out of place.
  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Well I disagree with this ad. Even if the parents don't mention the word pretty, other people do, then what are you going to do about it? I never pushed my kids into STEM or non-STEM. My kids played with barbie dolls and leggos when they were younger. One decided to do STEM and one NOT.
This discussion has been closed.