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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Are We Getting Too Aggressive Promoting STEM to Girls?

Are We Getting Too Aggressive Promoting STEM to Girls?

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12 Replies 2056 Views

Had an interesting conversation with a parent the other day. I had just shared this video about the GoldieBlox kit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpe3Up9T_g

And, a parent friend on FB shared it too. *WE* agree this is a great thing but she got pushback from a friend who said she was tiring of all the promotion about girls in STEM and that some kids just wanted to be "regular" or "girlie" girls.

Has anyone encountered anything similar?

The obvious response is that every child has to find their own way and that the amount of promotion we are doing re: girls in STEM absolutely PALES in comparison to the amount of "encouragement" (sic) about girls see in the media regarding their roles in society.

What do you think?

-kj-

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal

I agree. I'd love to spend a day in the friend's world- where girls are getting so much encouragement re: STEM that we need to advocate for those who want to play traditional gender roles.

I'm not saying it's not real- just that it's the not reality of my day-to-day.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Keep in mind as I say this, I am a parent of two teen boys. Also I started working with computers and building stuff for them at the end of middle school, and my dad was an MIT guy.

I NEVER got a message that I couldn't do the boy things; all the messages I got were always how COOL it was to watch what bugs did, or build stuff, or experiment. It was the fun of it, not the pink that drew me in. And then later on, even in law school, there were girls who complained about the teacher not calling on them, and I said "Maybe you should try raising your hand."

I say this in order to say that ideally, we just have to show kids what's really interesting and let them play. It's great to encourage girls in STEM, but when does encouragement become pushing, and what happens when the girls start to crowd out the guys? I know of plenty of special programs for girls in STEM, but what if I have a son? He all of a sudden doesn't have access to that extra help, and that's just as discriminatory.

So isn't what we're REALLY trying to accomplish is showing all kids how much fun science, engineering and math is, and what it lets you do, rather than focusing on gender equity? (And I would argue there's just as much a lack of ethnic diversity in some STEM fields, but we're not as worried about that in the same way...)

I think we just have to make STEM as cool as this commercial, not "pink" it up.

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