Hey, It’s (another) Blog!

I love living in the internet age. I’m that part of the tail end of Gen X that was still young enough during the rise of the internet to feel perfectly at home online, but also old enough to remember things like card catalogs, World Book, and grandparents who refused to get an answering machine. I remember using a 20 page manual to figure out how to program the VCR to record shows that were on after my bed time. Now I roll my eyes when my parents talk about all the shows jamming up their DVRs. Come on folks! It’s 2018, you can stream anything. Cut the cord!

 I love that when a random question occurs to me I can ask my phone for the answer. Like, “Why does washing cause natural fabrics to shrink?” Questions like these become salient as I sit here typing in a pair of too-tight freshly washed pants. Gah, pants! Always trying to thwart my creativity!

 Arguments that once would rage between friends and family members can be settled with a simple YouTube search. It turns out my husband and I were both wrong. It wasn’t Pluto or a comet that caused a cataclysm in 1997 earth leading to the rise of a techno magic post apocalypse. 

Man, I miss full minute long, narrated cartoon introductions. No, not really. After all, they live forever online, and 70s and 80s cartoons were truly terrible.

 I remember when being a geek was still a bad thing, and got to gleefully watch as my nerdy cohorts rose to prominence among the elites of the technology and entertainment industries. Now I see my childhood icons plastered on artificially aged tee shirts worn by 5 year-olds whose parents are too young to actually remember the pop culture references in which they’ve decked their children. I can deploy my childhood memories as social capital with cool 20-something college students and their middle school-aged younger siblings. It’s . . . weird watching 14 year-olds rock out to my beloved (but admittedly vapid) 80s pop music. It strikes me with a feeling of both familiarity and alienation. Are they making fun of me? Why do they like this? They don’t know the references within or the context of the music, games, and shows they’re streaming endlessly on pocket devices. Does it matter if they do? And then there’s the meta angst of a highly privileged white woman expressing distress at temporal appropriation. I mean come on. It’s not like these kids are donning sugar skull make up and getting drunk on Cinco de Mayo. 

PSA Moment - Hey white kids, don’t culturally appropriate for “cool” costumes. Not cool - End PSA.

 OK, so I went down a bit of a rabbit hole there. The point is, a lot has changed since I was a 9 year old who aspired to be an evil mad scientist when she grew up. So much has changed. But you know what hasn’t changed? The gross underrepresentation of women [1] in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Here’s a nifty chart I stitched together from a bunch of different government reports. Basically, what it shows is that 1) women are underrepresented in most STEM disciplines and 2) the disparity grows the further up the career ladder you look.

Disparity Chart.png

It’s a chart! Women holding STEM degrees/positions as percentage of total (National

Science Board, 2014b, 2014c, 2014d; National Science Foundation, 2011a).

 What does this mean? It means that if I were 9 years old today, I wouldn’t be much more likely to become a man scientist than I was in 1986. Wait, did I just give away how old I am? Again? This is pretty depressing. The bit about women in science, not my age. I love being in my 40s. My store of giving-a-flying-flip has hit epic lows [2]. One thing I do give a flying-flip about is girls and women in science. I give a whole lot of flips about gender disparities in STEM. I spend that time before falling asleep thinking about it. I spend time playing games on my phone thinking about how I should be doing something about gender disparities in STEM instead of placing yet another tile trying to block that blue jerk out of my giant Carcassonne city. Heck, I wrote a 321 page dissertation about gender and STEM [3]. 

 You do not want to read my 321 page dissertation. Seriously, I can be honest with myself. No one who didn’t absolutely have to read that should. But, it’s possible, that after writing that 321 pages  . . . and a few more pages in the form of journal articles and reports, and spending 11 years actually doing science with girls, that I *might* have some things to say that people *might* find interesting.

Welcome to the Chicks Dig Science Blog, aka “The SLOG” or the place where Brandy rants about all things girls and science-y. 

 So, what is this blog about and who is it for? Excellent question. This is a blog for anyone interested in girls and gender diversity in science, informal science outreach, and/or motivational theories as they apply to science education. You know. Girls. Science. Motivation. YAY! So basically, parents, educators, and scientists interested in doing outreach, this is a blog for you. Also anyone who enjoys gratuitous snarky footnotes and deep 80s & 90s nerd references.

 This blog with also be featuring original art from actual girl scientists with whom I have worked over the years.

 Future posts will include practical tips for engaging girls (really anyone) with science, crash courses in motivational theories and how they apply to effective science experiences, interesting results from real research with real girls, and round ups of current issues in gender disparities in STEM. Posts will be presented in my native smart-alec voice, while including legitimate research and informed, responsible commentary. 

So stay tuned each Thursday for a new snippet of snark and substance in the world of girls and science.


 [1] and minorities and people with disabilities

 [2] For an epically profane breakdown of how this feels see this excellent essay by Mark Manson.

 [3] For the record, only 253 pages of that were actually about gender and STEM. The rest were title pages, and references, and appendices . . . about gender and STEM. GAH! Look. There were a LOT OF CHARTS AND TABLES. It’s not that long, really.