Lecture Comments on Gender Bias in Mathematics, Science and Technology.
One of the first thoughts I had when reading this article was that it did not apply to me in certain areas. I asked for a microscope and a chemistry set for Christmas when I was 10 years old and received one. I had read the book “Harriet the Spy” and loved the character in the book that was a female scientist in the making. I aspired to be like her. I also wanted to be a writer and a spy. I was encouraged to pursue these things to a certain extent but when I reached the Jr. High years I was also encouraged by the recruiter who came to register us for our new school to enroll in Home Economics as well as the School Newspaper.
My aspirations to be a scientist died when I discovered socializing and boys but I think it had more to do with my raging hormones. I was also in the middle of peer pressure to fit in and most of the girls were more feminine than I was and I wanted to fit in with them. I was more of a tomboy by nature and I discovered the fact that I was not coordinated therefore did not fit in with the sporty crowd of females. If I had been more athletically inclined I would have gone in that direction. I did spend a majority of my time writing stories and reading books but I did not find mathematics or science particularly interesting and I’m not sure if I had been more “encouraged” that would have mattered to me.
I also found that the references quoted in this article were from the 80’s so I started looking on the internet to find any recent articles on the same subject and was surprised to actually find many articles on gender bias in these fields. It seems the research shows that not much has changed. More men than women still pursue these fields and it seems that boys are encouraged to do so more than girls are. But how much of it is that the teacher’s are biased? I was reading an article on a report that came out in November 2009 that says the "fundamental claim" of the Academies report that men outnumber women in certain math and science fields because of social barriers against females has "no scientific foundation." They say research has shown a connection between genetic and hormonal differences between males and females, which affect behavior and choice of occupation.”
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2009/11/book_re-examines_gender_and_ca.html Nov. 5, 2010 Education Week
While I agree there are some teachers and institutions that hinder females from pursuing careers in Science, Mathematics and Technology, I also believe there could be biological factors. I don’t find it completely far fetched that as a female we may have less interest in such things. In my case specifically it was so. I may have been fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to be whom I wanted but I don’t believe every female is discouraged from taking Math and Science courses. In fact it was required for me to take Math until my junior year of high school and Science through my sophomore year. I am not arguing that there is evidence of more males in these fields of study, but I do believe there are more reasons and that some of them could be biological.