Thursday, August 28, 2008

We Must Do More to Encourage Girls to Pursue Science Careers

San Jose Mercury News (CA) (08/19/08) Cheng, Josephine

Despite recent studies showing that girls are doing as well as boys in math from grades two through 11, more must be done to encourage girls to pursue science and technology fields as a career, writes Josephine Cheng, IBM Fellow and lab director at the IBM Almaden Research Center. Although outnumbered, women have made significant contributions to computer science. For example, Grace Murray Hopper invented the first computer compiler in 1952. In 1991, Hopper became the first woman to receive the National Medal of Technology.

One reason why more young women are not pursuing science and technology careers may be that many people still believe that girls are not as good at math and science as boys, despite evidence to the contrary. Many companies, schools, and industry role models are working to change this perception. IBM, for example, hosts a science and technology summer camp for girls. A recent camp at IBM's Almaden Research Center and Silicon Valley Lab was geared specifically toward middle-school-aged girls. Another effort, Nerd Girls, a club founded by women engineering students at Tuft's University, is working to dispel negative stereotypes about girls and technology with the intention of showing that young women can be athletic, fun, and outgoing while being extremely intelligent in science and math.

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