Thursday, October 22, 2009

You + Me= Us (Calculus) ... Sally Ride urges girls to work 2ge+her on math and science

When I was in the midst of my student teaching residency, some of the student teachers and myself noticed something had changed with some middle school students. Over a period of about two weeks, some of the girls had become less likely to participate and it was taking longer for a lesson to "click" with them. What had happened? I went to my teaching advisor to see if there was any education tools to fix my teaching style.

She laughed. "Well, it's rounding the end of April and they're 7th graders."

She then proceeded to explain that it's pretty common knowledge among teachers that around this time girls will subliminally shy away from appearing too "bright" in the "harder," more structured subjects like science, math and foreign languages to impress those boys they're just starting to notice. This is where the feminist in me did everything in her power not to let out an ear-piercing shriek.

Luckily, not everyone has accepted this fact. We have people like Sally Ride ( THE FIRST WOMAN IN SPACE ) out there to counteract this phenomenon.

As Val shared earlier, Sally has recently been included in US News' list of "America's Best Leaders 2009." Her organization Sally Ride Science promotes a love of math and science starting from 5th grade (before the curse) until 9th. While it is co-ed, Ride stresses that one of the reasons she founded the organization back in 2001 was to defeat the dreaded science/math mental block often found in girls.

In an interview about her US News recognition, she said:

"I discovered that there were still significant societal stereotypes and peer-group pressure that start to affect girls in upper elementary school through middle school in such a way that they start to drift away from math and science. So I realized that there was a lot that could be gained by targeting that particular age."

Sally Ride has used her organization as a way to ensure the next generation of great mathematicians and scientists will include both men and women and has been seeing strong results proving that a Y chromosome isn't necessary to master the subjects.

Along with Sally, this list includes great feminists like VDAY Campaign's Eve Ensler and Tony award-winning Twyla Tharp. So, unlike the rumors in the hallway, being smart is pretty cool!

ps. to anyone wondering, the title of this blog is named after a pop-culture reference from my younger years. yes, i've shamelessly plugged MTVs 2001 original movie 2ge+her (the mockumentary made to get some laughs at boy bands like *nsync, backstreet boys, 5ive, soulDecision, etc...) Don't worry, I'm now seriously reconsidering the music choices of my youth while reviewing the music video and assure you that I've better developped my music taste since then (well, maybe...)

photo credits: db*photography on

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