Monday, May 10, 2010

SciGirls on PBS

It is a well-known (and much lamented) truth that women are under-represented in STEM careers. This is a problem as a) women comprise the majority of people earning college degrees these days and b) these professions are expected to grow rapidly in the years to come. If women are over-represented among students, but under-represented in STEM fields, we will face a major talent shortage in the near future.

So what to do about it? PBS (with sponsorship from the NSF and ExxonMobil) is now airing a series called SciGirls as one approach. The show features real girls, age 8-12, doing real world, hands-on scientific inquiry. They think of a problem. With the help of mentors, they figure out an experimental approach, and the audience gets to watch their adventures.

I'm looking forward to taping and watching the show. If any Gifted Exchange readers have seen it, please let me know your thoughts. The New York Times ran a a review the other day pointing out that the girls in the show were awesome (but the animated characters were, most definitely, not). I am not sure how much of the gender gap in STEM fields is due to a lack of tween interest. We've been seeing shows touting science and math for years, and you still hear people say, with no shame, that they are "not math people." But it never hurts to show kids doing science that doesn't involve burying your nose in a text book.


badbin said...

Great approach.

Also, we need to help our sons achieve their potential and get their butts to college.

lgm said...

The NYTimes article accurately describes my experience. There comes a point when you realize that it's not worth it to keep banging your head against the wall of bias that many men of Summers' generation have, whether they are American or whether they are here on visa from a country that does not view women's participation as acceptable ...there are other opportunities and quality of life is important.

It would be interesting to see statistics on how many women that graduated in STEM are still in the field 15 years later.

Anonymous said...

That is a very interesting observation Igm. I and the few female friends that I have that are in STEM fields are still in STEM fields 15 years later. The majority of us are in computer science/technology with a few in engineering. I guess I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where math and science were never seen as foreign or out of my reach (my father is an engineering professor and my mother a nurse) so it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought or said, although I will not pretend that others did not look at me as if I were wasting my time or taking up some white males space in class. Also, I do have the personality type where I enjoy when people challenge me, it give me a chance to stay on my toes and also an opportunity to put the challenger in his place … I rather enjoy that :).

Anonymous said...

My 6-year-old daughter loves, loves, loves this show! It is truly fantastic and though the animated characters are silly, they do help keep her interest and add a bit of entertainment to the show. She is just crazy about science and I think this show really validates her interests where her peers at school definitely do not.