Girls, maths and physical sciences
Ms. S.J. Rickard
srickard at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
Mon Mar 25 12:05:56 EST 1996
When making my selection of subjects to study at both the age of 16 and 18
I avoided maths and physics like the plague for a simple reason. I saw
them as very, very boring. I only studied chemistry because I had to in
order to get anywhere in biology. Biology was the only science that
really grabbed me and my class was predominantly female, whereas my
chemistry class was mostly male (as was physics). My point is this (and
it may vary from school to school or country to country),fewer girls are
interested in maths/physics/chemistry because by their nature ( and
usually the way they are taught) they are dry and tedious. It's not that
boys don't also think they are boring (because in my year, believe me
they did!) but boys have more of a social pressure to take the more
physical sciences and maths. Girls aren't expexted to take such subjects,
don't feel obliged to study them for the sake of it and
plump for more interesting things. In my experience a lot of students only
maths/chemistry and physics because it was essential for a career e.g.
medicine, not because they found them interesting or stimulating. Most
people in my class took biology because it interested them and they
generally WANTED to do it, not HAD to do it.
If we are to get more girls into science then we have to make science
itself more interesting and accesible to both sexes. In Britain the
science subjects are taught in a dry and uninspiring way and the syllabus
tends to be limited (unless things have changed in the last 5 years).
I still find chemistry/maths/physics tedious to the extreme and I am very
glad that I never felt pressured into taking them!!!! I will now be
flamed to death by lurking physicists and chemists, go ahead and
shoot...make my day!!!!!
Just a couple of pennies worth.
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