When I was struggling, a quarter century ago, to get my aerospace engineering degree, it was abundantly clear that there was a distinct disparity between the numbers of males and females in the engineering, math and science courses I took. It was not unusual for a class of thirty or so to boast a whopping four of the fairer sex. This tended to make those four very popular. Granted my memories of the time are faded, jaded and biased, but I don’t recall so much “oh, boo, there are girls invading our traditionally male-only spaces” so much as “oh, boy! Girls! Interested in the same stuff as us!! Maybe they’ll notice us!” Grant also that I have no idea what it is like to have several dozen hormone-driven nerds take an interest in me, so maybe that was less thrilling for the gals in the classes than it may have seemed to the guys.
I do remember more than a few run-ins with femynist cause-heads who would for some reason berate me for that male/female disparity… but when I asked them if *they* were planning on taking Differential Equations and Calculus Three, never mind Statics, Dynamics, Orbital Mechanics or any of the rest, there was not a whole lot of “well, yes, sign me up.” The simple fact seems to be that the reason why there are (or at least *were*) fewer female-types in the engineering classes was because fewer female-types *wanted* to be engineers.
Why might that be? I am sufficiently politically incorrect and observant to suggest that there are some differences between the sexes that cannot be glossed over with post-1960′s propaganda. And some of these differences might simply make women naturally statistically less interested than men in becoming engineers. But it is also abundantly clear that there is at least *some* cultural component. While there have been women scientists and engineers for a little short of forever, they have, at least until recently, been viewed by society as odd or worse. One might’ve thought that those days should be over, at least overtly. Ever since Barbie got a talkin’-to over stating that “Math is hard,” it has been bad form to suggest that girls give STEM a pass.
But then this happened:
The Carnegie Science Center is shown advertising a series of science/engineering related workshops for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The listings for the Boy Scouts actually looks pretty good… I know that if they had been offered to 10-year old *me,* I woulda been all over ‘em. But the listing for the Girls is… well…
What is “Science With A Sparkle?” Apparently it has nothing to do with pyrotechnics or Cerenkov radiation. Instead:
Prepare to be dazzled! Dive into chemistry and learn how science relates to health and beauty products. Become a cosmetic chemist and concoct your own creations to take home.
“Health and beauty products?” Now, if the “health” products that the workshop were aiming towards were cures for Ebola, cancer and socialism, hey, that’d be great. But I suspect that’s not really it. More like “this is how to use makeup,” I’m guessing.
Now, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are, to the best of my recollection, wholly unrelated organizations, sharing only a portion of their names. But for activities like this, can anyone come up with a good reason why the two organizations can’t work together to create *joint* science & engineering courses? Any good reason why they must be segregated? And if there’s a valid reason for the segregation, any reason why they can’t simply use the same facilities, equipment, books and instructors and such *twice?*
On a related matter: I keep hearing about sexism among comic book fans, sci-fi fans, gamers, cosplayers, etc. To a certain limited degree, such things are inevitable. But to a larger degree… dude, if’n yer a nerd, what THE HELL are you doing making life rough for a girl who shares your interests? What, are you a fricken’ moron? Forget the moral and ethical reasons for not treating females like trash. Simply do the math. If you don’t already, you will, soon enough, be attracted to women and want them to be attracted to *you.* But here’s the thing: if you are a sci-fi/comic-book/gamer/whatever nerd, most women *won’t* be naturally attracted to you, because you are a social outlier. How do you change that without abandoning the interests that give you some measure of happiness? Well, it’s *not* by bitching about how The Hot Chicks just want the Dumb Jocks. What you want to find are females who *share* your interests. And being a scumbag to ‘em will not help. Not only will you immediately mark yourself as a scumbag, you will make them less interested in those very hobbies that could have made them interested in *you.*
So if’n yer a geek-guy and you see another geek-guy being a dirtbag to a geek-girl, whap the dumbass upside the head. Not so much in order to make him re-evaluate his life and improve his chances of finding true love, but to make him stop driving females away from *you.* (Note: do no do this publicly. Do not advertise it to women. Nobody likes a “white knight.” You and your metaphorical fedora will get mocked.)
Also: behold the irony. This blog post is based on the above-linked posting at “Wonkette,” which appears to be a feminist political blog. Fine. But at least on my screen, the right-hand side of the page has vertical banner ads… including a Calvin Klein ad with women in an incomplete state of dress. Men get in trouble for looking at semi-nekkid women. But apparently feminists make money by displaying semi-nekkid women to other women. Shrug.