A Gaggle of Squealing Girls Can’t Love Science?
Some of you may recall the great gender based assignment rage of 2013. If not, start here.
So, here’s an update. This year, the Tween gets to research a scientist. She adores science. So I asked her the other day, have you picked your scientist yet? Apparently, she is waiting to be assigned her scientist. But I asked her, hoping for the best, will it be any scientist or will this be another gender based assignment? But the Mr., he raised a good point and mentioned that her female scientist options would actually be rather limited because, you know, historically science has been a very hard field for women to break into. Which still remains true today. When you review lists of people big in the world of science and tech, the male to female ratio is very skewed and women are significantly under represented. And when you are talking about history, forget about it. You probably immediately think Marie Curie and a few other big names and after that, it’s harder to come up with the names. And to find the books to do the research, even harder. I know, I looked last night. (Edited because this link about the Unsung Heroines of Science JUST popped up on Buzzfeed, we’ll call it kismet.)
And then I woke up this morning and Maureen Johnson (man I love her) was raging about this:
It is a truth universally known that if you want something to seem SILLY, say it had female attendees! And that they SQUEALED!
— maureenjohnson (@maureenjohnson) October 15, 2013
The set up of the article is maddening: There were a group of girls – no, a gaggle of squealing girls – in a room where they were oblivious to the fact that right next to them the big boys were doing important things : Science! Silly, squealing girls. Real magic is happening in the room next door to you.
So, let’s just dispel a few myths:
Not all fantasy or even Harry Potter fans are girls. I wasn’t there, but I would presume that a fair number of male Harry Potter fans were in attendance. I have hosted many a HP program over the last few years and there are always guys in attendance. Sometimes dressed up. HP is universally loved and for good reason: it is some amazing storytelling.
You can like fantasy and science. It’s a big world and the two are in no way mutually exclusive. In fact, a lot of fantasy has science weaved into the story, which is part of the reason that Fantasy and Science Fiction are often shelved together.
I don’t really get what is wrong with being excited about something or why we must condescendingly describe it as “squealing”. I mean, I have seen some of my male “techy” friends reaction to the announcement of the newest version of the next Apple product, it’s no different than my reaction to meeting one of my favorite authors. There is joy and excitement and even sometime squee. Squee is not bad. Life is short, get excited about things.
As a mom with a daughter who loves science, I really don’t appreciate the constant barriers put up by the field and the media which tends to send the implicit message: this is not for you. We can’t write articles saying we need more women involved in science and math and then turn around and set up barriers. Or call them whores because they want to get paid for their work (oh wait, that was a different story).
Basically, let’s stop being condescending about girls and their interests. Even if they are not your interests, it’s a big world, let’s respect each other.
Also, if you want to read an interesting take on Artificial Intelligence, the focus of the New York times article, check out Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network