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girls and K-12 science education

Leslie Kay lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu
Mon Jan 18 14:39:20 EST 1993

In article <1993Jan17.174145.1 at max.u.washington.edu> wijsman at max.u.washington.edu writes:
>I would like to solicit discussion in THIS newsgroup on the topic of
>how we get and keep more girls in the pipeline, including any ideas
>people might have on approaches to science which specifically
>encourage the girls, encouragement or discouragement they can remember
>from their early years, etc. The issues here are probably more 

I will relate a more negative experience, that I managed to avoid, 
when I was in Junior High (early 70s).  I was placed in accelerated
math, where we took Algebra in 8th grade and Geometry in 9th (LA city
schools).  When I was admitted to the 8th grade program, I was told
that I had better be certain I wanted a career in math or science,
as there were lots of kids who would benefit from the program (I
don't believe they said this to the boys who were admitted).  At the
time, being 13 years old, I didn't know what I wanted to do and thought
that maybe I would like to be a writer.  I agonized over the decision
and in the end I decided to "lie" and say I wanted a career in science,
simply because I liked math and wanted to be in the class.

What I suggest is that any encouragement of girls to take math and
science (and boys for that matter) should not be tagged with "you are
preparing for a career in science" at an early age.  It almost made
me miss a great opportunity, and in fact, I did end up pursuing science
(and writing).  It is too early even in high school to make kids decide
what career they will choose (IMHO).

Leslie Kay
UC Berkeley Biophysics
lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu

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