Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Empower Girls – Use Nonfiction, Not T-shirts

"Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

In an April 11, 2013 Huffington Post article, Sexist'Avengers' T-Shirts Tell Boys To Be Heroes And Girls To Need A Hero, Christina Huffington draws attention to how products continue to be marketed differently for boys and girls. It is noted that the boy’s shirt is child-size and the girl’s shirt is junior-size. Compare the two shirts:

This week, a HuffPost Live segment titled Gender Equality? Keep Dreaming discussed the same subject - hosted by Josh Eppes with guests Cristen Conger @MomStuff Podcast host of "Stuff Mom Never Told You", Sarah Mulhern Gross @thereadingzone National Board Certified Teacher, Michael Riegel, Managing Director of Engineers Are People Too, and Charity Stewart @SpaceCampUSA Social Media and Advertising Manager, Space Camp. The live telecast brought to light many topics concerning the quest to bring more girls into STEM careers. The focus of the discussion concerned t-shirts sold at Space Camp, a champion for STEM careers for over 30 years. (The t-shirts have been removed from their site.) Compare the two shirts (Men's on left, Women's on right):

It has been over 20 years since Mattel Toys got into hot water for releasing the Teen Talk Barbie that uttered the phase, “Math class is hard!” We are getting better at creating products to encourage young girls into STEM careers, but we still have to stay on our path. Dr. Wilda V. Heard, writes about STEM careers and girls in her April 21, 2013 blogpost titled Reducing gender differences in STEM education , where she outlines what needs to still be done.
Interesting, for readers of this blog, Jonathan Olsen and Sarah Gross, in a April 16, 2013 guest post in an Scientific American article, site a 2006 research study that shows that "storys activate the brain and changes how we act in life."  In the article, To Attract More Girls to STEM, Bring More Storytelling to Science, Olsen and Gross, both teachers at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey, suggest that STEM be taught through the lens of a story - and they add "it sure beats a pink microscope".

As we approach the next decades, our world needs the ideas of all our young people - both boys and girls. Looking for a few good nonfiction STEM books to empower young readers? Here’s a few links I found on STEM nonfiction books, which include several excellent books written by our INK authors.
YALSA - STEM Resources
Carnegie Library of Pittburgh – STEM books – Great source for all things STEM
PBS Parents - Empowering Books for Girls 
STEM Nonfiction Reading (Middle Grade) via Goodreads
STEM Friday

I know I've left out some favorite links. Readers ~ please leave suggestions in the comments, I'll be sure to include them.

NOTE: Quote from the intro page of Anna's YA book Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers, to be published by Chicago Review Press, January 2014.


Karen Romano Young said...

Great post! I will be looking for that story research piece. And to heck with dreaming -- I'll be aspiring to achieve and be my own hero. Thanks, Anna.

Andrea Laura said...
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