Starting the Conversation: Why is it a “Boy” Thing?

marianneBy Marianne Reid Anderson

Growing up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the era of women’s lib, every teacher I ever had told all of us girls that we could do anything a boy could do, we could become doctors, lawyers, astronauts, professional athletes, you name it. And as I look around today, I see that many women have achieved these goals and so much more. There are new Olympic sports for women, female hockey teams, most young women in business advance into management much faster than their male counterparts, and the list goes on and on. I even earned a Bachelor of Science in Systems Analysis and never realized it was a male dominated profession.

Yet, when I look at the younger generations, I see something has changed. I see how few girls have an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as, the STEM fields, I get nervous, bewildered and sometimes even outraged. When my nephew was in the 5th grade, he joined the Lego® club at his elementary school and there was only one girl. Why? Because even at that young age, it was labeled a “boy” thing. When I take my nephews to the science center and ask friends if they want to bring their daughters, I repeatedly hear, “oh no, not science, my daughter would never be interested in that”. Why? Science is nature’s magic show. Plus, careers in the STEM fields tend to be very lucrative; particularly for women. Personally, I am also a technical writer and enjoy learning about new technologies that I can pass along to our readers and I do not consider it to be a “boy” thing.

In my series of articles on innovations in the classroom that have spanned these last five months, I applaud the many amazing advances in technologies and teaching paradigms used by our local private, public, and parochial schools. In particular, I applaud those programs, faculty and administrators who encourage girls to join Lego clubs, robotic teams and other science-related activities.

I also applaud the female scientists that are terrific role models on television and show girls having fun and great jobs in science, such as, Kari Byron in Mythbusters and Mayim Bialik who portrays Amy on The Big Bang Theory who, in addition to being an actress, earned her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA.

So why do you think the STEM fields are now being described as a “boy” thing and thereby discouraging girls from pursuing these interests? What do you think should be done about it? Let’s Continue the Conversation on my blog at northernconnectionmagazine.blogspot.com where I also have embedded videos that illustrate this issue facing younger generations of women.