A study recently published in a medical journal suggests ‘gender-interest stereotypes’ contribute to a drop in the number of girls who might be interested in STEM by as much as 50 percent, a startling figure if true.
What’s not certain about the study is whether these gender-interest stereotypes emerged from a biological reality of whether they were imposed in an effort to hem in the dynamic of a particular group, in this case, the female of the species. In other words, is it genes or is patriarchy? It is probably a lot of both.
As a people, it is in all our interests for our girls to be given less expectations and more options, as well as our boys. This study could potentially help us understand how to create more space for our children to discover more fully who they are, not who the world expects them to be, or it could become a cudgel used to beat on all things currently (allegedly) ‘orthodox’ and traditional.
My suspicion is if you apply the standard of creating space for boys and girls to discover more fully who they really are then the counter-coercive methodology of invalidating the orthodox and traditional and fetishizing anything the orthodox or the traditional is not would be a feckless tactic to try on such a people as that.
That respect of self becoming who they are by choice works to cut the orthodox and traditional from coercively stamping their assumptions on the next generations, but it also works to cut the non-orthodox and the non-traditional off from coercively stamping their assumptions on the next generation in a bid to become the NEW coercively imposed orthodoxy and tradition.
My suspicion is that a people raised in such liberties will produce remarkably similar ‘orthodox’ and ‘traditional’ patterns as before, just maybe not so overwhelmingly so, as the non-orthodox, the non-traditional are free to openly engage in all public space, respective of one another’s Bill of Rights ‘protections.’
The unity is the Bill of Rights, which makes the diversity possible. A Bill of Rights constructed land, a Bill of Rights led people will be respecters of what our children choose to become, not coercive stampers of our assumptions onto their newly developing minds.
Just a caveat in closing, this is NOT to suggest I don’t believe we share our orthodoxies and traditions, nor that we don’t offer some boundaries to our children, and boundaries against the world in dealing with our kids in matters that belong between parent and child alone.
Even children as young as 6 can develop ideas that girls don’t like computer science and engineering as much as boys – stereotypes that carry over into teenagerhood and contribute to gender gaps at university, according to a study published in PNAS.
“Gender-interest stereotypes that STEM is for boys begins in grade school, and by the time they reach high school, many girls have made their decision not to pursue degrees in computer science and engineering because they feel they don’t belong,” says lead author Allison Master, of the University of Houston.
The study involved four different experiments to assess the beliefs of a racially diverse sample of children and teens right throughout school. Instead of exploring who children perceived as ‘good’ at STEM subjects, they investigated who children thought liked them, which can affect childrens’ sense of belonging and willingness to participate in STEM-related activities.