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girls in science

Tue Jan 19 11:10:40 EST 1993

i, too, was encouraged by my parents.  they were both scientists and we
did experiments after dinner and went birdwatching, etc.  however this
backfired with my brother, who took one biology class in college and now
is going on in history.  in elementary school i was encouraged by several
teachers.  it was junior high (as harvard researcher carol gilligan has
written about) that i lost my "voice" and stopped asking questions.  this
continued on through high school as the boys dominated all classes i was
in.  i am not sure exactly what convinced me to stick with it, although
i had one math teacher in 8th grade who called me and three other girls
to her desk one day to tell us that there were only 10 student teachers
in the state of maryland in math at that time and only one was a woman.  she
told us that we were all very good students and should always stick with the
highest honors track.  i remember her very well.

in college i did not experience much discrimination in science classes.  i had
two female biology professors who held us to very high standards, and as someon
e has already mentioned, we performed at that level for them.  ta's were more
guilty of "showing" girls how to do things, than letting them do it themselves.

my mother currently works in a public school system in virginia developing
science curricula for junior high english as second language teachers.
these teachers frequently have not had any science themselves since they were
in high school and it is difficult to convince them that they can do science,
let alone that their students can.  mom works mostly on hands on experiments
to get the kids into it and new learning and teaching methods that the
teachers feel comfortable with.  it is frequently very frustrating, but she
has found the teachers very receptive to help.

i wonder how many people out there can link their careers in science to one
encouraging teacher, somewhere along the way....

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