[EDEQUITY Science Dialogue] Thinking outloud

From: Halimah Polk (polkh@nwrel.org)
Date: Thu Nov 16 2000 - 13:04:13 EST

I am responding to a few of the ideas about how to bring more females along
in science.

I agree with the ideas presented so far and want to discuss a few of them
more deeply. "a more holistic approach to science" I often think that
girls are highly scientific and have high interest in science, but
conventional science curricula and classes fail to broaden their subject
matter scope to include female friendly science--like human anatomy, like
life cycle of human infant, like the chemistry of cooking, like the
chemistry of cosmetics, like herbal remedies and midwifery. I'm just
brainstorming aloud, but you get the idea...For example, I think young
mothers develop acute habits of the scientific mind as they experiment with
different variables to help babies sleep through the night etc. Young teen
girls have amazing knowledge about animals, etc.
What I'm saying, of course is that our definitions of science curriculum
somewhat exclude girls, because sometimes the subject matter isn't that
compelling for girls..but it could be!! And that because girls don't get
discuss the areas of science where they do have exceptional prior
they feel as if they don't have any ability in science, etc. or interest.
(reduced motivation)

Another point I'd like to make is that narrowing the gender gap in the
sciences at schools is also dependent on getting the word out, public
relations as it were, about how to encourage girls in science...just like
are doing now. I cease to be amazed at how little the educated public
about educational innovations and recent research discoveries (ie how to
encourage girls in science) and what is more amazing, disheartening really,
is how few teachers have this information--or believe it. So I'd say
dissemination of knowledge about how girls learn, what environments nurture
the cognitive development of girls, how to encourage girls in the math
science areas is a number one priority.

Halimah Polk
Northwest Labs

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