Motivating girls to do science...
Mr. W.Y. Chan
wahchan at liverpool.ac.uk
Wed Mar 27 05:17:36 EST 1996
Anne Carpenter (anne at expert.cc.purdue.edu) 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). A book I
: read that had a huge impact on me and helped me to understand some of my
: fears was "Smart girls, gifted women." I think it was written by Dr.
: Barbara Kerr. She was in a pilot program many years ago that
: gave bright young students, boys and girls, special classes. In short,
: she became a psychologist, and upon seeing most of her classmates years
: later at a reunion, she found as expected that many students had gone on
: to outstanding careers in business,medicine, law, science, etc.
: What was
: remarkable however is that most of these successful students were the men
: in the class, and that most of the women found themselves in unfulfilling
: careers. The author does not place the blame on unfair hiring practices
: or anything like that - rather, she conducts a survey of these women and
: finds that many of the women had low self-confidence in their academic
: ability. Many of them even commented that they always kind of wondered
: if maybe they had been put in the class by mistake. The women were often
: very scared of failure...they didn't go to graduate school because they
: were worried they couldn't cut it. They accepted jobs as secretaries
: because they knew they could do that sort of a job. They didn't want to
: disappoint people so they "underacheived" and only tried things they knew
: they could succeed at.
: I wonder where this kind of low self-confidence comes from...I have
: really noticed it in my own life. In my personal experience, I wonder if
: women are more likely to be embarassed and shy about their academic
: success whereas men are more likely to be proud, or even arrogant. What
: causes this difference? I have heard it said in intro Psychology courses
: that women are more likely to attribute success in academics
: (particularly science) to luck, and that men are more likely to attribute
: success to their high ability. Where do we women get these unhealthy
: Someone quoted earlier a study that showed that the majority of men see
: themselves as above average while the most women do not think as highly
: of themselves. Doesn't it makes sense that this kind of thinking would
: affect women when they are deciding what major to choose? The sciences
: are traditionally seen as more difficult than humanities...and at many
: schools this is true. It seems likely that more women than men are
: intimidated by the difficulty of a science curriculum.
: So, to get to the point of this rather long post, I think one of the main
: problems in getting girls of any age motivated and interested in science
: is that girls are more intimidated by science. How can this problem be
: solved? One way that others have mentioned is to make science beautiful
: and interesting and relevant. If girls are shown more about what science
: is really like, they are less likely to be scared of it. Another
: solution would be to encourage girls from a young age about their
: academic ability. If they have more confidence in themselves
: academically, they are more likely to choose a field of study
: traditionally seen as difficult. The question is, How do you increase
: girls' self-confidence?
: I've found this thread extremely interesting...keep posting!
No comment, I get to annoy people again if I say anything. If I said what
you had said above I would be at the recieving end of a load full of hate
mails. If you like you can email me and ask me politely about my opinion
to this subject.
: Anne Carpenter
: Sophomore, Purdue University
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