A new American Psychology Association study shows that while STEM is associated with masculinity cross-culturally, black women associate STEM with men less than white women do. The study mentions that African American women also study STEM majors more frequently than white women.
The stereotypes women — as well as men, as well as teachers, professors, and employers — hold about science and masculinity has a chilling effect on women’s participation in STEM majors and careers. However, black women appear to be more confident about approaching science and mathematics, possibly because the character traits associated with the fields – like independence and assertiveness — “may not be considered unfeminine” in African American cultures. Keep reading »
I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Neil deGrasse Tyson more than I already do, but then the “Cosmos”‘ host went dropped some real talk in a discussion about whether genetics — specifically difference between the sexes — is to blame for there being so few women in STEM fields. “I’ve never been female. But I have been black my whole life,” he begins, before drawing parallels between the ways societal forces have long created barriers based on race and gender that have prevented equal opportunity. This is just perfect. [The Mary Sue]
OK, so it’s a little difficult to feel tons of sympathy for the genetically blessed amongst us. But everyone has their struggles in life and when you’re a person who is only known for their looks, sometimes people treat you like you don’t have any brains. Case in point: Cindy Crawford learned an awful lesson about judgment on her first day of college calculus. The supermodel received a scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University, but all her professor seemed to see when he looked at her was a pretty face. Watch this clip from “Oprah’s Master Class” as Cindy tells her sobering (and infuriating) story — and think twice before you assume someone is dumb just because she or he is attractive. [Huffington Post]
The race to find a silver bullet to solve the “Where are all the girls in science and engineering?” puzzle is fast and furious. And as someone who works to encourage and support women studying in science and engineering fields, I worry our efforts often end up pitting the “pink sparkly girls” against the “digging for worms on a rainy day” ones.
I was one of the girls digging for worms. Rainy days were awesome when I was a kid: I would throw a swimsuit under my play clothes and hit the street. My mom use to talk about her horror of finding me building a mud dam in the street, trying to keep the river of storm water from getting to the sewer system. (Of course, that is also one of my favorite memories from childhood.) For me, science has always had a hold on my brain and heart. From archeology to the space program, I loved it all. Okay, maybe not genetics. Fruit flies were sooooo boring. And with my gift to kill plants, botany was a huge failure for me. But as a biology major, I had to take it all. Keep reading »
Meet Emily Graslie, the Chief Curiosity Officer of the Field Museum in Chicago. (Now that’s a job title I’d like to have!) She’s also the host of a YouTube series called The Brain Scoop which investigates cool scientific topics like how octopi have sex and the differences between moths and butterflies. Emily is one of the few women to host a STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, math) YouTube series, which is not entirely surprising, because those industries are all dominated by men.
In Graslie’s most recent Brain Scoop video, Emily asks why that might be. While she personally feels completely supported by her employers and colleagues, she pointed out how there is a larger culture that is unsupportive of women in STEM fields. So she illustrated this in the starkest way possible: by reading sexist comments. Keep reading »