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STEM Connection

Young Girls Excel in STEM

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Rob Spiegel
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Young girls go tech
Rob Spiegel   10/30/2013 11:20:41 AM
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Nice story, Cabe. In an country with stubbornly high unemployment, with too many jobs that don't offer sufficient wages to support workers (fast food jobs pay less than $9.00 per hour), I would think there would be a rush to STEM jobs.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Young girls go tech
Elizabeth M   10/31/2013 5:07:26 AM
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Thanks for this article, Cabe. It's great to see more of a focus on women in these type of jobs, and efforts being made to put them there. It would be good to see both the pay and the number of women in these jobs equal to men some day. Efforts like this will certainly help!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Young girls go tech
Rob Spiegel   10/31/2013 5:51:10 AM
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Elizabeth, I agree with you, especially as a father of two daughters. I see enormous opportunities in STEM careers for both men and women. I'm still surprised there isn't a huge rush toward STEM careers.

ChuckMahoney
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Re: Young girls go tech
ChuckMahoney   10/31/2013 9:40:33 AM
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I also have two daughters - one working in digital media, the other studying architeecture, but I have noticed over the last few years that boys are being ignored by the school system. I see it plainly with how my son and his friends. The pendulumm has swung the other way and with all of the focus on girls, boys are left behind to fend for themselves. How about STEM for ALL STUDENTS? It seems like it is assumed that boys in general are inherently interested in technology so the schools don't have to worry about them. I predict that we are losing a lot of boys...

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Young girls go tech
Rob Spiegel   10/31/2013 10:23:34 AM
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Chuck, this may be a regional trend. I haven't see girls favored over boys in any way here in New Mexico -- for STEM or anyting else.

ChuckMahoney
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Re: Young girls go tech
ChuckMahoney   10/31/2013 10:33:13 AM
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(sorry about all of the typos in my previous post. Yikes! more coffee is needed)

You can't speak for all of New Mexico, just like I can't speak for all of New Jersey, but it is clear that there are a lot of programs out there that are geared toward girls exclusively. Again, I have two daughters so I supported this for many years, but I really do believe that "we" are assuming boys are naturally interested in STEM subjects and that is not necessarily true. My point is that STEM is important for ALL kids, regardless of thier final career choice, and we need to be cognizant of that. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Young girls go tech
Charles Murray   11/5/2013 7:59:12 PM
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I am still baffled as to why more women don't choose engineering as a career. When I started on Design News in 1987, one of our editors (Gail Robinson) wrote a great 10-page magazine article about overcoming the barriers that cause women to make up only 10% of the engineering profession. Now, here we are 26 years later, and the percentage is up to what -- 12%? Why?

Elizabeth M
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Re: Young girls go tech
Elizabeth M   11/6/2013 4:39:30 AM
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Those are disheartening numbers, Chuck. I can't understand it either and wonder is women are still socialized from a young age into more artistic or social careers rather than scientific ones. I can't imagine this would be the case these days, but you just don't know. It would be a shame if that were true. And I suppose there is scientific evidence that the brains of men and women work differently, but there are plenty of incredibly successful scientists and engineers so I don't think this could possibly be any deterrent to women in this field. Perhaps traditional gender roles are still to blame, especially in the U.S. It would be an interesting topic for more study!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Young girls go tech
Ann R. Thryft   11/7/2013 1:55:04 PM
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Thanks for telling us about this, Cabe. The lesser presence of women in STEM classes and careers can be ascribed to many reasons, but one of the most important is definitely social, on both sides of the equation. And that's old news. Girls are not encouraged to be smart, and especially not to be mathematically smart, which tends to be a requirement for most sciences and most technology. Girls who are smart in math aren't as popular in high school, because of socialization, as Liz mentions. I speak from both my own experience in the 60s, as well as the experience of my niece (who graduated from Caltech). The problem is well known there, and at some other institutions of higher learning. BTW, the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls is simply that: a stereotype, which has been overturned by recent studies: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/apa-wsf010510.php

Elizabeth M
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Re: Young girls go tech
Elizabeth M   11/7/2013 3:26:46 PM
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Yes, Ann, I think we are in agreement on this. I don't think it's a case of women not wanting to go into these fields or not being smart enough for them. I definitely think it's social as well.

Charles Murray
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Re: Young girls go tech
Charles Murray   11/8/2013 6:22:26 PM
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I could be wrong here, but I have a feeling the lack of girls in engineering is self-perpetuating. A lot of girls don't go into engineering because they don't have friends who are going into engineering. And maybe they don't have female engineers to serve as role models. There seem to be plenty of girls who do well in high-level high school physics and math classes, but there seems to be a disconnect at the college level -- or at least that's what I saw when I was an undergrad. There weren't a lot of women in my college engineering classes. I have a feeling that many of the young women who have succeeded in engineering saw it at home (that's a huge help), or had a family member to help lead them in the right direction.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Young girls go tech
Elizabeth M   11/11/2013 9:26:50 AM
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That's an interesting perspective, too, Chuck, and you could be right. This also I guess has to do with socialization...maybe the gals don't want to continue because their friends don't and then even if they show promise, they go into another field. So I guess what this all means is there still need to be programs and encouragement for women to enter these fields, and not just from family members.

Charles Murray
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Re: Young girls go tech
Charles Murray   11/15/2013 6:23:19 PM
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I don't know if anyone has figured this out yet, Liz. In the 1960s, college accounting classes were loaded with men. By the 1980s, the numbers had evened out. But for whatever reason, it hasn't worked that way in engineering.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Young girls go tech
Cabe Atwell   5/28/2014 2:33:20 AM
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You may have touched on something there Elizabeth. I've known girls in college that only went there because their friends were enrolled in classes at the school and not because of the curriculum that was offered. 

Watashi
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Re: Young girls go tech
Watashi   11/7/2013 9:58:27 AM
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It isn't that baffling.  Go to any university college of engineering (my field is EE) and look at the classes.  Freshman courses here about 50% female, but by the time you reach teh senior and post grad classes you are lucky to have A girl in your class.

I can not ascribe the reasons, but I can say that we all go through the same instruction and experience.  Many of the girls I saw drop out of engineering just didn't seem to 'get it'. 

Most of the freshman drops (male and female) appeared to be shell shocked by how hard the material was going to be and didn't want to step up to the task.  They just wanted a degree and a career, and didn't care what it was in.  Why work hard to get an engineering degree when an intelligent person can skate through something else (e.g. business, humanities, education, etc...)

naperlou
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STEM good, but how many jobs?
naperlou   10/30/2013 11:56:37 AM
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Cabe, it is good to see people getting involved in STEM at earlier levels of school.  Our schooll district has a very active program.  That makes sense, since a lot of people around here have STEM jobs and backgrounds. 

On the other hand, the comments about the number of people needed in STEM jobs is not really clear.  If you ask industry they will say stupid things.  For example, Steve Jobs famously said he needs 30,000 engineers over the next years.  I worked in the space program, which is not known for its efficiency.  We designed and built multiple spacecraft at a time with a group of 2,500 people.  We had subcontractors, but some of our people were working on subcontracts as well.  Each of these systems were orders of magnitude more complex than anything Apple has ever done.  It is hard to get a real number out of industry these days.

While there will certianly be good STEM jobs, I have seen research recently showing that these are plenty of people in the US to fill them.  We should keep improving our educational system in this area, but the fear of massive shortages should not be the driver.

taimoortariq
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Kids in Tech
taimoortariq   10/31/2013 1:13:59 AM
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Thats a great article Cabe, It really feels nice to see young kids participating so passionately in the tech world. They way these kids are contributing in these fields in such a young age is truly worth the appreciation.

a.saji
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Re: Kids in Tech
a.saji   10/31/2013 4:58:25 AM
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@taimoor: Yes now a days kids are more familiar with technology rather than toys. Most of the time toys too resemble technology. It's a good sign since technology will be everything in the future.  

taimoortariq
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Re: Kids in Tech
taimoortariq   10/31/2013 11:47:05 PM
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True, the technology be it in any form either educational or entertainment is useful to children.

Pubudu
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Re: Kids in Tech
Pubudu   10/31/2013 5:45:48 AM
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Yes taimoor, they will move with the tech than us, they will take the challenge with the technology. And also it's nice to see girls are coming to front. 

jhankwitz
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Pendulum Swing
jhankwitz   10/31/2013 10:04:39 AM
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It's been interesting watching the education pendulum swing over the past 60 years.  My high school Freshmen all took General Science and Algebra, Sophomores took Biology and Plain Geometry, Juniors all took Chemistry and Solid Geometry, and Seniors took Physics and Calculus.  That all changed for some reason, but now they're trying to bring it back in a limited way with specialized STEM schools or programs.

I'm fortunate to be involved with judging our regional Science, Rube Goldberg, and Future Cities competitions.  No public schools get involved in our Future Cities competition. The private schools all participate, usually have STEM programs, and are overwhelming represented by young females.  It appears that women are destined to lead our technological future.

-John

ChuckMahoney
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Re: Pendulum Swing
ChuckMahoney   10/31/2013 10:35:53 AM
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Could the overwhelming female representation you mention be due to the emphasis on girl's participation and not boys? Are the boys being ignored?

jhankwitz
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Re: Pendulum Swing
jhankwitz   10/31/2013 10:58:37 AM
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Pardon my memory, high school Math back then was Algebra, then Plain/Solid Geometry, then Trigonometry, then Calculus.

Chuck - It appears that the guys are more interested in sports after school than participating in science projects with the girls.  I'll check into it further during this year's competition.

honur
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Stem and girls
honur   10/31/2013 4:05:46 PM
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My daughter, very intelligent and scientifically knowledgeable, stayed away from STEM in college to make sure that she remained an all A student, so she could keep her scholarships, fellowship and graduate "magna cum laude".  She also was convinced that engineers pollute the earth.  Instead of becoming a scientist or engineer that she had the talent for, she got a doctorate in Sociology at U of M in Ann Arbor and is teaching Sociology as an assistant professor.  Until we start saying the truth about STEM jobs, most girls will stay away from them.  They are likely to be idealist and trusting souls when graduating high school, where teachers often lead them astray.  I have personally designed machinery that save energy, reduce pollution, help to prevent accidents and sickness.  I designed the system to clean up a superfund site, and designed a lube oil and grease manufacturing and packaging plant that was the best and most efficient at the time it was built for 10% of the cost the American engineering firm bid for the job.  My daughter ignored the contributions that I, my brother and my father have made to the advancement of our culture and civilization as engineers and followed the dictates of a misled high school teacher. I am sure that she is not alone in this there are literally millions of girls that suffer the same fate.

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