How Microsoft Is Encouraging Girls To Fill The Female Science Gap

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According to a Microsoft, 7 out of 10 girls are interested in science, but only 2 out of 10 will actually pursue it as a career. What happens to the other five along the way?

Well, there’s a good chance they have believed many social cues and genderized messages through media and other vehicles of communication (parents, schools) that science isn’t really for girls. We’re speculating, but all you have to do is look at the majority of women who are regularly taking up headlines in the media and entertainment, and they aren’t exactly astrophysicists (except for Natalie Portman’s character in ‘Thor’) they are reality stars, beauty queens, fashionistas. Not that there is anything wrong with liking fashion and making a career out of it, but when there is a significant amount of men in the science field compared to women, it seems we have a problem.

Microsoft, through their Digigirlz Youthspark program are attempting to close that gender gap and encourage the next generation of girls to get into the field they love. Digigirlz is engaging girls to fall in love with all STEM careers (science, tech, engineering and math) by offering online classes, tech camps, and other resources that can fill in the blanks where regular schooling has failed.

They created a campaign video (below) showing what young girls think of science. The first young girl says “if you think about it, science is everything!”

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One girl says science and tech has helped her build her own garage door opener (!) and another built her own website. But wait there’s more, a young girl built her own computer and created an electrical circuit that enabled her to open her fridge with a piece of LEGO.

If this is the untapped genius we are waiting to discover, why the hell aren’t more schools and programs being offered to young girls?!?

Well Microsoft isn’t waiting around for their competitors to find the talent and steal them, so at the end of the video they have included an email address, recruiting2027@microsoft.com, for all the young girls who want to get involved with this tech giant now! How cool.

It’s interesting to hear one of the young future Microsoft employees mention that in school they get the message that science and tech is only for boys, because they hear about inventors such as Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. This is not an uncommon trait elsewhere in society where it is hard to find more comprehensive resources about the women who pioneered paths in science.

One resource that we have been particularly impressed with is Tumblehome Learning‘s ‘Magnificent Minds: 16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine‘ book by Pendred (“Penny”) Noyce.

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This book is filled with stories of 16 real life women who did incredible things in the aforementioned fields that will hopefully encourage girls that they too can become world changers and do amazing things in the field of science.

The women mentioned include Marie Curie (probably the most famous female scientist in history) who invented radium and is the only female to win the Nobel Prize in both physics and chemistry, Polish woman Maria Cunitz: the most accomplished scholar in mathematical astronomy in the 17th century, Lise Meitner: the physicist who first explained nuclear fission, Florence Nightingale: the woman who pioneered the use of statistics in public health, and Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper who were pioneers in the computer science world.

“For centuries, women have risen above their traditional roles to pursue new understanding of the natural world. This book, which grows out of an exhibit at the Grolier Club in New York, introduces the lives, sayings, and dreams of sixteen women over four centuries and chronicles their contributions to mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, computer science, and medicine. Sweeping and inspirational, this book should be read by all girls and young women who share curiosity about the world and the dream of making a difference,” says the website’s description of the book.

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It is interesting to note that the surge in programs to encourage women in science is something that has never before been seen in history. Although she is the only woman to ever win 2 Nobel Prizes, Marie Curie faced much opposition from the science community, and was not allowed into a prestigious science organization simply because she was a woman!

In fact Albert Einstein was one of the people in the field who actually stood up for her and encouraged her to “ignore the haters” because he, as a genius, could see what an impact her work would make on the world.

The Magnificent Minds book gives a comprehensive account of each woman’s achievements, her timeline, and notable quotes that can be shared and attributed back to these women who have largely been forgotten.

Microsoft’s Digigirlz program and the Magnificent Minds book shouldn’t just be celebrated during Women’s History Month or on the one day of the year where women are acknowledged around the globe, International Women’s Day. It is something that needs to be ingrained into the very fabric of everyday culture and society in order to eliminate gender barriers and recognize achievements on merit instead.

Here is the Microsoft ‘Girls Do Science’ video below, and if you want to purchase a copy of ‘Magnificent Minds’ you can do so on Tumblehome Learning’s website, or on Amazon.


 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: 'Girls Who Code' Founder Reshma Saujani Says Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection - GirlTalkHQ

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