Motivating girls to do science...

Jennifer Potter jras at
Wed Mar 27 13:12:47 EST 1996

Anne Carpenter wrote:
> One of the major things I have had to overcome as a college woman
> choosing biology as a career is the lack of self-confidence
> about my academic ability (particularly in science).  

I agree with you, Anne.  In my early years as a grad student I often felt 
very overwhelmed by it all.  The best advice I got was from a friend who 
often was on the receiving end of all this insecurity.  He said to me, 

"Just keep going until they kick you out"

I actually ended up repeating this to myself during difficult times, and 
guess what?  I'm nearing completion of the degree and have much more 
confidence in myself.  I do think that women are more likely to be 
underachievers, not in the sense that we don't achieve, but in that we 
choose things in which we are assured success (or, at least aren't all 
that risky).  I think that girls can be motivated by seeing their 
success, seeing that they CAN do it and that problem solving can be 
intellectually stimulating and FUN.  As more and more women are 
successful in science, we need to make sure to show precollege and 
college women our show that the good work being done is not 
only by men.  
We also need to burn all those Barbie dolls that say "Math is hard."

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