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Encouraging girls, intro

A.K. Fyfe akf1002 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Tue Jun 14 14:55:42 EST 1994

In article <DEAL.162.000BECB2 at cce.ubc.ca> DEAL at cce.ubc.ca (Heather Deal) writes:

>I'm writing here today because I want to develop some cohesive programming 
>around "girls in science" and am looking for models.  I've got some ideas and 
>have spoken with folks about a few models, but would love to hear more before 
>designing my program.  I have carte blanche regarding format.  It can be 
>everything from intense workshops for "gifted" kids (I dislike the term) to 
>informal evenings with girls, parents and scientists - or a combination of 

>Any suggestions, opinions, thoughts will be greatly appreciated!

I thought you might be interested to hear about the events I had the 
opportunity to partake in while I was at school, supposedly to encourage me 
into science and technology - BTW, I am at present just finishing my first 
year of a degree course in biochemistry and genetics.

My school was very concerned about the lack of girls in science, and did a lot 
to encourage us, by running science clubs, organizing talks by women who have 
achieved something in science, and the like. We were also taught the three 
sciences separately (which is more than can be said for an increasing number 
of schools in England, due to the Government's new National Curriculum). This 
allowed us a greater introducton to the subjects, and meant that if, for 
example, we disliked one part of science, we did not necessarily dislike the 
entire subject! 

We also received visits from a travelling exhibition called the WISE Bus 
(Women Into Science and Engineering), which is organised by some national body 
- sorry, not sure who - and will visit any interested groups. The snag with 
the WISE Bus was that those of us who were already interested in science went 
around it thinking "what a waste of time, we're already convinced", while 
those of us who had no interest whatsoever, left feeling no different. I will 
admit however, that for the few girls in my year who had yet to formulate any 
preference for or against science, it gave them a fresh view of the subject, 
and a few were in fact persuaded to continue with science for a bit further in 
their scholastic careers. All that the bus really was was a display to show 
that science is NOT just a male area. It succeeded in doing this.

Beyond this, we were really left to our own devices to choose science or not. 
Maybe 40% did. But that was at an all girls school. In this country at 
least, more girls from single sex schools will do science than girls from 
mixed schools. I believe that this is another example of the need to convince 
girls that they can do science as well as boys. But given the ingrained 
stereotype against this, they may take some convincing!

Aileen Fyfe.
Jesus College

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