Saturday, September 18, 2010

Women & Math

Earlier this year, there was a new study released about women in the sciences.

It seems as though women still feel shut out of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, & math) fields. We have made tremendous progress in recent decades, but some women still don't feel comfortable going into these fields.

There are simple things that schools can do to help encourage young women in these fields. According to Catherine Hill, the American Association of University Women's research director and lead author of the report,

We found a lot of small things can make a difference, like a course in spatial skills for women going into engineering, or teaching children that math ability is not fixed, but grows with effort.
Let me repeat that.

Math ability is NOT fixed, it grows with effort.

So even if you are not naturally "good" at math, if you work at it, you will get better.

Here is a link to a great story about a female astronaut.

Eileen Collins was not one of those people who is "good" at school. But she had a goal. She wanted to be a pilot.

So she worked hard at school and got the best grades she could. Not straight A's, but good grades.

She couldn't afford to go to a major university. So she went to a community college. At that point, she had worked hard enough to get a scholarship to a university.

She wanted to fly "really fast" planes, so she joined ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corp) and had the Air Force help her out.

She has TWO Master's degrees in technical fields, as well as a Bachelor's in math and economics.

She became the first female to pilot a space shuttle.

Not because she was super smart, but because she had a goal, and kept her eyes on that goal. Back in 1974 when she was graduating high school, the majority of young women did not even consider a career heavy in math and science. But she didn't let that stop her. She knew what she wanted, and worked hard to get it.

All of us at one time or another have struggled with a class. Math can be difficult. But if you don't give up, if you keep working at it, you can do well. Math sometimes takes a lot of practice. Sometimes that means doing MORE than homework.

Eileen Collins succeeded because she had a goal to work towards.

What are your goals?

*The picture is from the NASA website.


  1. I think it is important that teachers tell their students that most skill sets are not set in stone, and that they are subject to improvement if we practice and are dedicated. Good post!

  2. I agree very strongly. We get better at the things we work at, and kids need to know that.

    Thank you!