There Really Aren’t Enough Women in Science (I Implore Girls to Consider Science)

This is just a shoutout to girls everywhere. If you’re in elementary school, junior high, high school, whatever, it is never too late to decide you want to pursue an academic career in the sciences. You don’t have to have placed first in any national math competition, you don’t have to have been in the science fair every year since you were five, you don’t have to have made your own telescope from scratch. You don’t even have to have done particularly well in your science classes to be interested in science.

Girls, there are two types of people in the world: those who think the gender gap in science doesn’t exist, and those who know of its existence all too well. If you’re hearing this for the first time, I apologize, but here goes: there are way more men than women in science, the problem only gets worse and worse as you climb the ladder into graduate studies and postdoctoral research, and the problem exists because of blatant sexism. Girls are simply not as encouraged as boys with respect to science, whether it be a teacher telling you that you have an aptitude for it or whatever it is, and women are far less encouraged than men to keep pursuing science (in graduate school, in their careers) than men. In fact, many women are (pretty shockingly) bluntly discouraged from continuing in science.

When I was in elementary school, I was better at English than I was at math. Teachers told my parents, “Oh, maybe she’ll be a writer someday.” And although I was placed in the advanced math groups, the advanced science groups, nobody ever told me I was good at either of those things, so I just assumed that English would always be my forte. The first person to ever tell me I was good at math was my freshman algebra II trig teacher. But she told me I was good at math! And not everybody has that. Some girls will gets A’s and B’s in advanced math and science classes, but nobody will ever bother to tell them, “Hey, you’re really good at math and science.” And it sounds stupid, but if nobody ever tells you you’re good at something, despite how obvious it is that you are indeed good at it, you can spend your whole life thinking that your talents and your passion lie elsewhere. If your teachers never bother to make math or science interesting, you’re going to spend your whole life thinking that you don’t get it, or that it’s boring, and that’s just simply not true.

Science is beautiful, and it will change the way you view your world. Science lets you find out how absolutely everything works, from the genes inside you, to the black holes out in deepest darkest space. It lets you explore things that nobody has ever explored before. And you really don’t have to be an Einstein to do it. You, you sitting there, YOU can get into science. If I can do it, you can do it, and believe you me, I am a strong, capable, future scientist.

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2 Responses to There Really Aren’t Enough Women in Science (I Implore Girls to Consider Science)

  1. M. says:

    It has a lot to do with what girls are told, what they see women doing, what they DON’T see women doing. It’s not that many girls are actively discouraged, it’s that girls aren’t being actively encouraged to the extent that boys are. And even that isn’t enough. There just aren’t enough people going into STEM fields period, which contributes to a whole host of problems like unemployment and our growing failure to be able to compete at an international intellectual level.

  2. Henshaw says:

    the problem exists because of blatant sexism.

    You are probably right that some girls are discouraged from studying science. My Mom is probably the smartest person I know and had she been of college age today she would have likely been steered towards getting a Ph.D.

    Even if that element was removed I doubt that the gap would be removed entirely. The genders aren’t the same. Men and Women make different choices. There was a good article about gender differences in The Atlantic a few months ago about the gender wage gap.

    Some of that goes back to what you said about what girls are told, but I don’t think that explains everything.

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