Today’s Lady News: The Geek Stereotype Keeps Girls From Studying Science

  • Dr. Sally K. Ride, a former astronaut, is supporting President Obama’s plans to improve America’s dismal math and science rankings and she’s zeroing in on the cultural expectations we have for girls. Dr. Ride recalled a recent science expo she attended where the mom of a 12-year-old girl made a big fuss over her daughter’s interest in science, as if it were so unusual. “[The mom] was saying, ‘I don’t know where she got this, she’s so different from everyone else,’” Dr. Ride explained. Girls “internalize the message that scientists are geeky-looking guys with labcoats and pocket protectors who never see the light of day.” She added that ages 10 through 12 are a vital time to prevent girls from getting discouraged from pursuing math or science in higher education. [New York Times]—Even though Barbie says “Math is hard!” researchers say girls can handle it.
  • … but it certainly doesn’t help that a science blogger noticed that Toys R Us sells microscopes and telescopes marketed to little girls (pink, of course!) that are less powerful than the black or red microscopes marketed to little boys. Are you serious, people? []

  • Cheerleaders and parents at Evansville High School in Wisconsin are pissed that the principal banned spaghetti strap tops because they don’t meet the school’s dress code. Instead, girls on the “poms squad” must wear zip-up jackets during performances. [Gazette Extra]
  • Activists are working on an initiative to collect 700,000 signatures and parental notification of abortion on the state ballot in California. Similar parental notification initiatives in CA failed three times, in ’05, ’06, and ’08. [Santa Clarita Valley News]
  • During her first week in the anchor chair at ABC’s “World News,” Diane Sawyer got the same amount of viewers as Charlie Gibson, whom she replaced, usually would. Sawyer is the second woman to anchor a prime-time news program by herself, after Katie Couric. [New York Times]
  • Ellen Goodman, an op-ed columnist for the Boston Globe and a Pulitzer Prize winner, announced her retirement this weekend. Goodman was a vocal advocate for women’s rights. [Feministing]
  • Jessica Valenti, one of the co-founders of Feministing, will have her book The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women made into a documentary film by the Media Education Foundation. The MEF has made a lot of other films often seen in women’s studies classes, like “Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image Of Women.” []
  • Lamda Rising, a gay bookstore in Washington, D.C., is closing after 30 years. Luckily, the owners say they aren’t having financial troubles; they just wanted to try new things. [NPR]—Unfortunately, there are lots of other independent bookstores out there, especially women’s bookstores, shutting down because they can’t compete with the chains.


  • If politicians in Britain have their will, pharmacists will no longer be able refuse to dispensing the morning-after pill to women and claim they disagree with contraception. The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence is calling for the so-called “conscience clause” to be scrapped. [Daily Mail]
  • Argentina welcomed its first gay marriage between two men. Gay marriage is still illegal in Argentina, but the governor of the province issued a special decree allowing it. [BBC]
  • An interest in history is the latest fad for young women in Japan. The BBC talks to one woman who’s interested in warring clans of the 16th century because she thinks men nowadays are “weaker.” [BBC]
  • A couple of Isreal’s chief rabbis released a letter on Monday which said they should all work more closely with anti-abortion groups because abortions “delay the redemption.” The letter urged other rabbis in Israel to devote their Jan. 9 sermon to preaching against abortion. [Jerusalem Post]
  • Some in India are outraged after a senior police officer received six months in jail for molesting a 14-year-old girl, who later committed suicide. [BBC]
  • A husband in Dubai has been sentenced to six months in jail for forcing his wife to take the abortion pill in April 2008. The husband allegedly took his wife to his family’s remote farm and forced her to take four pills against her wishes. Um, that’s not pro-choice, dude. [Khaleej Times]
  • Two gay men in Malawi in Africa will be charged with gross public indecency after they held an engagement ceremony last weekend. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza each face up to 14 years in prison, as homosexuality is illegal in Malawi. [BBC]