Sunday, March 04, 2012

Chicks in Science

Full Nail Hot Pink 2

I'm all for getting more women into science and for busting gender-boundaries in general, but I'm not sure that Chicks in Science is the best way to do it. It's a hugely popular scheme that gets girls interested in science by offering them pink hard hats to wear, cookery books with recipes "that Einstein might have cooked", and nail varnish*. Yup. No quarks or protons here, but get your pinny on, dear, if you want to be a scientist.

Or is it good because it's popular? What do you think?

*The nail varnish changes colour in the sun. But still.

15 COMMENTS:

Debbie said...

If science has to use a gimmick, I guess it's a good way to draw girls in. I liked science and still do. I don't think pink helmets and nail polish would have enticed me; I'm not a girly-girl.

Hmm, stereotypes. Lol.

jjdebenedictis said...

Didn't XKCD make a joke recently about people who respond to the question, "How do we get girls interested in math?" with "Can we make math pink?"

You get kids interested in science by showing them cool processes and getting them hooked on the beauty of understanding the underlying order in how our universe works.

The colour-changing nail varnish is cool, but the recipes and pink hard hats are just sexism.

Let them paint their hard hats pink if they want to. I can understand girls wanting to make their femininity an in-your-face political statement.

But don't force gender expectations on them like that. I hated pink when I was a girl, because I hated being shoved into that mould of what other people think a girl is supposed to be and to like.

Old Kitty said...

Is this only confined to the US? I hope so! LOL!! I'm sorry US people but seriously!! I wouldn't object if all children of both genders were included but to pander to stereotypes...??? D+ at best!

Take care
x

Richard N said...

If you want to see Babs with her blood boiling, just buy her *any* pink or floral tool...

If people really want to see more women and girls attracted to science, I can see the approach most likely to work involves a complete change in attitude - there's way too much patronising, sexist fuckwittery in a lot of scientific institutions.

It isn't big, and it isn't clever, and most of all, it's depriving the world of some mighty fine scientists.

Exactly the same could be said of engineering too - it's improving, but there's a hell of a long way to go.

Whirlochre said...

Personally, I'm not a big fan of pink.

As for women in science, Son of Whirl's chemistry teacher oozes geek. You can practically decant the stuff.

fairyhedgehog said...

Debbie, I wasn't a girlie girl either! I was more into climbing trees.

jj, I completely agree and you said it so much better than I could! Steretyping as a way of getting girls interested is just horrible.

Kitty,I'd rather see both genders included too.

Richard, I'd like to see Babs with her blood boiling. Or maybe I wouldn't... And I agree that a change of attitude is needed, not more patronising behaviour.

Whirl, Son of Whirl's chemistry teacher sounds awesome!

Polenth Blake said...

I found girls in science/engineering projects condesending when I was younger. I was the top student in my science class, so I didn't need someone talking down to me to tell me that yes really, I could be good at science. I knew I was good at science.

I'd hope they'll offer things like the mentoring scheme to girls who aren't interested in the nails and pinkness open day.

fairyhedgehog said...

Polenth, that's exactly what it is: condescending. As if girls can't understand anything that it real and gritty, like the boys can. 

fairyhedgehog said...

My first reply to all these lovely comments got lost in the changeover from Blogger to Disqus! (If you can't use the Disqus system, please email me at the address in the sidebar and I'll go back. I may go back anyway as Disqus seems to be having problems with me adding an email address.)

Meanwhile...

Debbie, it's the stereotyping that's getting to me.

jj, I completely agree and you've put it so much better than I could have done. It is just sexism and stereotyping.

Richard, I'd like to see Babs with her blood boiling. Or maybe I wouldn't... But like you say, we need a change of attitude, not more patronising rubbish.

Whirl, Son of Whirl's chemistry teacher sounds awesome!

Mark Langridge said...

Its funny, I work with quite a few female scientists and I doubt a single one would have chosen it "for a pink hard hat". I however WOULD do science for a pink hard hat (well if I'm doing it anyway, why not get a free hat?) 
 When it comes to basic understanding of science, during my A-levels I distinctly remember that  (on average) the girls in my class did better then the boys, yet I think maybe one of them went on to do science at university. I think the trick is get 'em hooked when there young. I wanted to be a scientist from age 8, thanks largely to Fairyhedgehog (my mum) and her love of science and science fiction. Perhaps if more girls where given science type toys instead of barbies (or maybe as well as?) they'd be more interested in later life. (I'm thinking chemistry sets, microscopes and stuff).

fairyhedgehog said...

Hi Mark, Darling! I could really see you in a pink hard hat...

I think your point about what children are given to play with is spot on. Oh, and thank you for your kind words about when you were little! 

Simon Kewin said...

Yes, it seems very patronising and stereotyping - but if it has the desired effect for some then I guess the good outweighs the bad? One of my daughters wouldn't wear a pink hard hat if you threatened her at gunpoint. The other happily would whether or not science was involved ...

I'll bet there are boys who would go for one of those hats too!

fairyhedgehog said...

Simon, I don't know if you noticed but in a comment above my son said he'd go for one of the hard hats!

I can't decide if the good outweighs the patronising in this scheme.

Michele said...

I'm a scientist and a mathematician. I am also a high school teacher of these subjects. If girls have already been driven into the world of pink and believe science to be out of their realm of possibilities (which is often the case by the time I get them in my classroom) then I believe anyway we can pique their interest and reopen those doors for them is fair game. Once the door is open, we can show them all the wondrous things science and math have to offer them. And we can start the conversation about stereotyping and gender.

fairyhedgehog said...

Michele, I suppose I worry that it will turn some girls off, but as I don't work with girls that age I have no idea if that could happen! And I admit that a lot of the younger girls I work with do adore pink!

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