[EDEQUITY Science Dialogue] Closing Statement

From: Gay.Gordon
Date: Mon Nov 20 2000 - 17:12:43 EST

As this year's discussion ends, a number of participants have raised good
questions or shared important information. I was particularly interested in
the posting by Kathleen Keller from the National Women's Law Center about
guidance counselors and their role in ensuring equal educational
opportunity. I confess that I didn't know that Title IX covered
disproportionate enrollment of males in AP Physics nor that the Department
of Education Guidelines indicate that counseling materials should not
or perpetuate stereotypes. Counselors play a vital role in making sure that
all students have an equal opportunity to take the classes they want and
need to be successful, yet we sometimes forget about the part they play. As
Keller suggests, parents should question the actions of guidance counselors
as well as that of teachers and administrators if there is evidence of
inequality in class enrollments.

School counselors provide formal guidance to students, but many informal
counselors play a vital role in a woman's choice of career. In the latest
issue of the magazine, Fast Company, there is a story about Dot Richardson,
the woman who won gold medals with the US Olympic softball teams in 1996
2000 while at the same time training to be an orthopedic surgeon
(<http://www.fastcompany.com/online/41/righttrack.html>). Dot found mentors
who supported her work both on the softball diamond and in medical
Obviously, she had many choices to make and many difficulties to overcome,
but her mentors supported her choices and helped her maintain her focus and
her optimism that she could do both activities successfully.

Sometimes the difference between success and failure is informal mentoring
from someone along the way. It's easy for women to find people to tell them
that they can't be a scientist for one reason or another, but much harder
find someone who will support them in their decision. Last year, mentoring
was mentioned as a key factor in the success of women in engineering
programs. Maybe the web site for girls suggested by Monira Hossain could
provide some mentoring support as well.

I have again enjoyed participating as a panelist. Thanks for the

Gay Gordon
Eisenhower Math and Science Consortium

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