For centuries, men have held a privileged position in science, and often women’s scientific merits discredited. Some prominent examples include the works of the Italian female doctor Trota of Salerno in the 12th century, who was published as male author being denied female authorship, and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin who discovered that hydrogen was a main constituent of the stars, yet her theory had been rejected until 1929, after male scientists proved her theories correct. Over the years, women have made tremendous achievements in science, even becoming Nobel Laureates. Today, more and more agencies acknowledge female graduates in science or technology-related fields. How can one develop girls’ passion for science?
1. Be careful what you say. Do not praise girls for their physical appearances only. Do not keep saying how beautiful, well-behaved and perfect they are; rather place the emphasis on those qualities which are useful in science (skills like, e.g., observation, curiosity, concentration, diligence, determination).
2. Pay attention to what you say about science yourself. Claims like “Oh, how I hated maths!” or “Physics is not for girls” contribute to how girls build their own perspective and way of perceiving information. Children should hear and see that you truly are interested in science. So be careful what you say not only about girls, but also about science.
3. Encourage children to experiment.; do not set limits, whether consciously or not (“Don’t mess up your room!”, “Be careful!”, “Don’t get dirty!”). Urge them to be more independent and courageous. Below you can find two links to TED lessons about bravery and its role in the professional development of each one of us.
4. Inspire your girls. Children can never be truly passionate about something they haven’t tried themselves. They should be given the opportunity to watch science in action and scientists at work. Visit museums, prepare projects and experiment, watch scientific videos and programmes, interview scientists and read books about explorers and inventors.
5. Teach girls to ask questions and ask questions yourself. There is no real science without this ability; there is only mechanical memorising or using of given formulas and patterns. There’s an interesting article about on this subject in The Guardian.
6. Teach girls to be confident and hard-working. Another interesting TED lesson on the subject is linked below.