“Girls Can’t Do Math” – is a favorite sarcastic saying, from my colleague Penny Noyce at Tumblehome Learning. She of course is very skilled at math, and an M.D., writer, editor and philanthropist among dozens of other things, who has served on various math and other educational committees (most recently, being appointed to the MA Board of Education). Naturally, she does not really believe girls can’t do math – in fact, she has spent a lot of her life proving just the opposite, and that’s why she decided to co-write a song called “Girls can’t do math”, to make fun of the very idea that gender plays any role in mathematical intelligence.
For many years, those of us in education circles regularly sat around tables worrying that girls were not involved in science fairs, and weren’t doing as well in certain testing areas, particularly those involving math and engineering. We would try to find ways to encourage more girls to try to think of science and engineering as fun. It turned out, that new data suggests not only do girls enjoy science & engineering,(and according to recent testing, may be better than boys in these subjects), but girls now consistently outnumber boys in science fairs. I remember the turning point, nearly 6 years ago, when in MA, we had a larger percentage of girls than boys entering the MA State Science & Engineering Fair, as well as related fairs. And ever since then, the trend has continued in full force.
I had the great pleasure to attend the Science Club for Girls Catalyst Awards the other night in Boston. A wonderful organization led by former tenure track biology academic, Connie Chow, and was pleasantly surprised to find one of my former mentors at Tufts, who is now President of the Museum of Science, winning an award for his contributions to increasing the number of girls interested in science and engineering.
So, for those of you who still somehow feel that gender, or race or anything else for that matter, plays a role in how much you can achieve in life, think again!