Studies done in the last five years have indicated that
young girls lose interest in science and math by the age of 12. There are
a vast number of programs to address this national tragedy. A few of these
programs include: those by non-profit institutions, mainly colleges and
science museums, funded by grants from the National Science Foundation;
the National Science Partnership between science centers and the Girls
Scouts; and programs funded and held at large corporations. All have been
designed to capture the scientific hearts of young girls.
But, like most things, learning begins at home. What
can you do to prevent your daughter from becoming a science and technology
dropout? The following list is just a start, but once you start, you may
find that you canít stop. And thatís good, because according to the US
Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2005, women will make up half of
the labor force. At that time, the jobs facing women will require higher
technical skills and participation levels than every before, as we
continue to compete in a more technology-driven society. Itís essential
that we keep young girls interested in science, math, and technology
throughout their lifetime.
1. Attitude, Attitude, Attitude.
No, not your daughterís, your own attitude. If you have an attitude that
girls are not meant for science, or that scientists are weird or nerdy,
leave that attitude at the door! Girls need encouragement, encouragement,
encouragement when it comes to science, math, and technology. We, as
parents, find that we may be very willing to insure that our daughters get
dancing and gymnastics lessons, but give little consideration to keeping
them current in the areas of math, science, and technology.
2. Find an area of science, math or
technology that interests you, and find out more about it.
Science is a vast arena of subjects. Thereís bound to be one youíll like.
Cultivate your own interest and your daughter may follow.
3. If you donít have a computer, see if you
can use one at the library or at school. Play around on it with
your daughter. If you have a computer, allow your daughter to pick
software that interests her. There are numerous new software companies
specializing in girlsí software titles.
4. Donít be afraid to fail, where
science is concerned. The family that experiments together,
experiences together. Thatís the neat thing about experimentation. Some
great inventions were actually the result of failures or unexpected
mistakes. Get a book out at the library on these serendipitous inventions.
Plus, while youíre at the library, look through the hundreds of great
science books for kids on the market today.
5. Include science TV shows from Discovery
Channel, PBS, and TLC in your childís television viewing schedule.
Bill Nye, the Science Guy, on PBS, is one wacky, science guy that
kids can relate to.
6. The Scientific Method is a way of
thinking, a logical approach to a problem. It can even be applied
to problems in everyday life. For example, use the scientific method on a
problem with your daughter. Step 1: Define the problem -- Hair hangs in
eyes and looks messy. Step 2. Make a theory as to why this occurs -- hair
needs combed and put back. Step 3. Collect data -- Try different hair
styles and ways to put it back. Step 4. Test your theory out -- Is life
with one particular hair style better? Step 5. If your theory is not
correct, start again at Step 1!
7. Visit hands-on science centers and
museums in your town and as part of your vacation. Make science a
8. Tear apart some old electrical appliance
or something mechanical to get a glimpse of itís insides and see how
9. Help plan a simple science experiment
with your daughter, even at the elementary level. If your school
doesnít have a science fair, see if you can share the experiment at scouts
or even at school. Invite some friends over to see the experiment.
10. Most of all have fun with the science,
math, and technology that you and your daughter have discovered together.
We can change the statistics about girls and
science, if we all work together.
By Cheryl Hershey, mother of young daughter and a
scientist in industry for 15+ years. Ms. Hershey founded Tomorrowís Girl,
a publisher of books for young girls, ages 6-12. Tomorrowís Girl fictional
series books feature a young girl as the main character, who solves
mysteries and other problems using science and technology. Visit
Tomorrow's Girl website at (www.tomorrows-girl.com)