Hooray for Girl Power

I love Disney movies – the old and the new. And I’m thrilled to see that over the years  Disney female characters such as Mulan, Jasmine and Elsa have become much stronger. They’re all still beautiful, (and of course, unfortunately, ridiculously skinny) but now they’re much more independent female role models.

But more needs to be done to advance the image of female characters, especially in this highly technological day in age. I often ask myself where are the films with the STEM-smart girls. I can find plenty of STEM-smart characters that are males, like genius Lewis in Meet the Robinsons, scientist Flint Lockwood in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and inventor Hiccup in How to Train your Dragon. Sure, Sam Sparks, played a meteorologist in Cloudy but she wasn’t the star of the movie. And then when Disney had their chance with Gabriella in High School Musical, Gabrielle called herself “the freaky math girl”…really? Although she did later go on to compete in the scholastic decathlon, those words, “the freaky math girl”  were still stuck in my mind 🙁

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Smart, beautiful, talented and socially savvy, she ‘s an ideal STEM role model for young girls. But, put “freaky” in the equation and all is lost….

Even in the television series, Phineas and Ferb, Phineas and Ferb are the geniuses while Candace is portrayed as annoying, weak and whiny. Thankfully, Doc McStuffins came along giving kids not only a cute and smart female main character (and role model), but one that also represents diversity.

But now, finally hitting the big screen is Big Hero 6, where girls are portrayed as cute and super-smart, techy smart – and in the case of Honey Lemon, fashionable too, which will hopefully inspire young girls to view the STEM fields as inviting, exciting and cool!.

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Click the link below to catch the interview with Big Hero 6’s  Jamie Chung, voice of Superheroine GoGo Tomago, Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering Student, and Genesis Rodriguez, voice of Superheroine Honey Lemon, Chemical Engineering student, and find out how they feel about the amazing characters they play.

http://www.wzzm13.com/story/entertainment/2014/11/04/girl-power-big-hero-6/18460911/

Yay Disney!

 

 

The Road Too Well-Traveled

Everyone that knows me, knows I’m all about girl empowerment, and not just talking about it. I know that nothing happens if all we do is talk about something. Change rarely results from a statement. Change requires action. And although there are many areas where I feel change is well-overdue, one that is near and dear to my heart is changing the stereotypes that math is for boys and that smart girls are socially awkward. Why? Because as a female engineer who worked for years in highly technical industry, sadly, I know that these paradigms can affect a girl’s choices.

If we can change those prehistoric misconceptions and get girls to believe that they too have a place in the world of STEM then we can power this country by tapping into some of the brightest and innovative minds in the world – the minds of our girls!

So, when it comes to doing math, we really need to stop the “That’s ok, girls are better at other things” and/or “I was never good at math either” messages. Those messages are a hall passes to the road too well-traveled, the road that is keeping girls away from STEM careers, away from math and away from science. Instead, encourage girls and challenge them with math. Point girls down the the road less traveled – the road to STEM! Visit A Mighty Girl for stories about incredible women in STEM and check out their recommendations for girl empowering books and toys.

Even though this is old news, it’s not that old, and it bears repeating…

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Back in May President Obama hosted and actively engaged in the White Houses’ fourth annual Science Fair, “where more than 100 students exhibited their science projects and experiments from previously won technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions across the country.”

 

“The White House chose to highlight girls and their inventions at the fair because Obama had stressed the importance of more females majoring in STEM fields in college and working in these industries after they graduate. Among Tuesday’s displays were a “concussion cushion” designed by Maria Hanes, 19, of Santa Cruz, Calif. Hanes, who wants to be the first female collegiate head football coach, invented a football helmet with gel and memory foam inserts that can better prevent concussions.”

At the Science Fair, “Obama also focused on the importance of girls taking STEM classes and women pursuing science and math in college. According to a study by the American Association of University Women, girls and boys take STEM classes at the same rates in high school. But that changes drastically when women enroll in college and start their careers. Only 25 percent of women in college major in STEM classes, and 24 percent of the STEM workforce is women.”

Read the whole story here:

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/05/28/obamas-white-house-science-fair

The White House is doing their part.
And by writing girl empowering picture books, sharing girl empowering stories (online and in real life) and providing math tutoring to girls who find themselves struggling (or better yet, working ahead), I’m doing my part. (Although I continually strive to do more in this area.)
See what part you can play, see what you can do to empower a girl…

 

Encouraging girls while they’re young

“Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 actual engineers are women. Early in a girl’s life, the toys marketed to her are usually things that don’t encourage her to enter those fields. GoldieBlox intends to change that by teaching them while they are young that these fields can be fun — and apparently epic, by the looks of this super-genius 2-minute video. Watch and learn.”

Isn’t it time for books to do the same?

“We need to have more girls interested in math, science and engineering”

President Obama’s words on girls and STEM:

“One of the things I that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way under-represented in those fields and that means we’ve got a whole bunch of talent that downstream is not being encouraged the way they need to and so the White House Office of women and girls has been partnering with the Department of Education so that our STEM education agenda, trying to get more math and science and technology education in the schools, also focuses on making sure underrepresented groups like girls are encouraged in these fields.”

President Obama gets it – when will the entertainment industry get it?

About Math, and Science and everything smart…

I am a huge fan of the Big Bang Theory and although I absolutely adore Amy Farrah Fowler, I have to say that I’m not happy that she is portrayed as such an awkward, nerdy, robotic geek.  Poor Amy, I often think. Why can’t she be pretty, why can’t she be sociable, why, why, why?

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And why is Penny, who’s beautiful, witty and socially savvy, the one who’s portrayed as the not-so-educated? or as Sheldon might put it, “the Hillybilly brainless wonder”?

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Every time I watch, I pray that some knock-your-socks-off beauty will walk into the university cafeteria and say something smart, causing Shelton to choke on his regimented food for the day.

I assume that young ones aren’t watching this show (suggested viewing for ages 13 and up), but I’m guessing that a fair number of teens and young adults are. And every time I watch I am reminded that the next generation of engineering hopefuls are getting more of the same… the same ole message that’s been perpetuated for years – smart girls are awkward, unattractive, socially inept nerds. But…that’s so not true and we smart, strong, attractive, socially adept girls need to get out there, be seen, be heard, and be known!