Microsoft Reminds Us that “Girls Do Science”


STEM-logoMicrosoft recently released a YouTube video to remind us all that “girls do science”. The video shows several young girls talking about how much they like science and technology. The girls are very enthusiastic about science and what they have achieved so far. The video cites that 7 out of 10 girls are interested in science. Then the girls start to talk about how they think that science is more of a “boy thing.” So, out of those 7 girls that are interested in science, only 2 will go on to pursue science as a career – that was pretty eye-opening for me.

I have degrees in Industrial Engineering and I never saw math, science or technology as “boy things.” My father is a mechanical engineer so engineering just seemed to be a very normal career to me.

When I graduated high school in 1975, my grandfather asked my father if I was going to college. My father replied that I was thinking about pursuing engineering. My grandfather’s reply was in the form of a question, “Will they teach that to a girl?”. My father responded that there is no heavy lifting so it should be fine. That was his attempt at a little joke. My parents fully supported my pursuit of engineering. My grandfather was born in 1899 and I suspected it was just his generation who thought that way. Apparently not. To his credit, my grandfather and I would talk about my job. So while he may have thought it odd, he wasn’t truly opposed to it.

When I was an engineer in a steel mill, some men would admonish me for “taking a job away from a man” (Never mind that engineers were in such demand at the time that virtually no engineer was unemployed.) That was almost 35 years ago but it looks like we’re still not encouraging girls to pursue science.

We need to stop sending the message that any of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines are “for boys.” If you know a young girl that has an interest in science, please encourage her and don’t let her think that it’s a “boy thing.” While it is important that she knows about Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison, share with her the accomplishments of some of the women that pursued their love of science and achieved great things as a result:


maria mitchell

  • Maria Mitchell was America’s first woman astronomer. In 1847, she discovered a comet now known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”. She later became the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Association for the Advancement of Science.

marie curie

  • Marie Curie discovered two elements.  She was the first women to win a Nobel Prize in 1903 and was the first person to win a second Nobel in 1911.

grace hopper 2

  • Computer scientist Admiral Grace Murray Hopper  was a pretty remarkable lady. She is best known for inventing the first compiler as well as being one of the inventors of COBOL.

Valentina Tereshkova

  • Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space when she launched on the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963.

Encourage her to pursue science in high school and college and to not be intimidated by “what people think.” With any career, it is important to pursue something that you are passionate about.   For girls, sometimes that’s science and that’s a very good thing.

Thanks, Microsoft, for the thought provoking video. I hope some of these girls are in your recruiting class of 2027.

 

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About the Author

Judy Novotny

Judy is a computer veteran with 30 years of experience. She has owned everything from a TRS-80, Apple IIe and various Windows-based PCs. She is currently living in her Apple ecosystem at home consisting of an iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook, Apple TV, iPod nano and two Time Capsules. She is a fan of all things mobile since she got her first Palm Pilot in 1999. Check out her iPad app, Number Wizard, in the App Store. Follow her on Twitter @junovotech or at Junovo.com.

4 Comments

  1. Your role model was not a woman: why do you insist that ALL females MUST have a woman to emulate?

    Try consistency in your reasoning some time.

    • It’s true that I knew no woman that was a role model for me in science. I don’t think that’s necessary. But if a girl chooses not to go into science because we, as a society, send the vibe that science is a “boy’s thing”, we need to support her and show her that some women have gone on to do great things in science. I was fortunate that my parents were incredibly supportive. Unfortunately, not all girls are that lucky. We just need to send the message that science is for girls is ‘normal’.

    • John Beatty, perhaps it’s you who should try a little consistency in your reasoning and maybe read Judy’s article again and then again after that, if you are capable.
      A role model or mentor, call it what you like, crosses all boundaries of gender and whether we like it or not, men have largely dominated science over the years and we became culturally and socially conditioned to that fact.
      But times have changed and whether women see either gender as a role model doesn’t really matter any more as Judy has pointed out without actually insisting on any particular role model in her case or for other women.
      If you’re going to comment on an article, at the very least have the decency to back up your side swipes or don’t comment at all.

      • Thanks, Marc. Yes, all that I am suggesting is that if we see a girl interested in Science, we should encourage her to pursue it. Any young person, whether they are a boy or a girl, should be encouraged to pursue their passion. We shouldn’t reinforce gender-based stereotypes. I think it’s pretty sad that, in the last 40 years, nothing much has changed.