Re: [EDEQUITY Dialogue]Opening Statement--Janalee Jordan-Meldrum

Date: Mon Oct 23 2000 - 11:45:37 EDT

It is certainly true that in the area of math, science, and technology
and girls lag far behind men and boys from third grade until death do us
part. Finding ways to inspire women to reach parity with men in these areas

is probably the single issue which cuts across all groups of women,
nationally/internationally, high/low socioeconomic status, and
caucasian/women of color, lesbian/straight. Until women are mathematically,

cientifically, and technologically self-sufficient they will continue to
have a hard time breaking through glass ceilings and getting off of

The vast majority of parents who have children of each sex would tell you
that they arrived wired differently. It's what we do after that. One thing
do for boys is we tell them that it is non-negotiable that they will learn
sit still in a classroom desk and they will learn to read. Most teachers
would agree that resistance to these two tasks comes primarily from boys.

What do we do when girls say they don't like or want to do math? We say,
that's ok, you're a girl." We do not make girls do gross motor activities
kindergarten through third grades while boys are providing themselves
with the assistance of their parents who sign them up for sports programs)
with excellent educations in space/time relationships. When girls reach
middle school and don't have the prerequisite understanding of such physics

and the mathematic concepts that come with space/time relationships, we
them it's ok. No problem. We do not make them buckle down and try harder.

We let the girls talk us out of it. Why? A third of the reason is that most

grade school teachers are women and they don't "like" those subjects
Another third of the problem is that boys and girls irritate each other
they learn these things together. They come from two different places and
learn it two different ways. So even male teachers who like the subject
aren't adept at reaching girls in their mixed sex classes. The final third
that fathers and mothers everywhere let their little girls take a pass on
math, science, and technology. In the 1950s my own scientifically oriented
family advised me to take typing over chemistry. The task for education is
make math, science, technology education palatable and non-negotiable for

Women's groups everywhere need to stop blaming men for this and get on with

the task. Women don't even agree that we need to know these subjects.


Tammy Steele
Young Women's Leadership Charter School
3210 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60616

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