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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Invent Now

inventnow.jpg

At the 2008 Women's Conference in California Dr. Condoleezza Rice stated, "We're not doing a good enough job of preparing girls for science and technology professions."

Myself, I wondered - Why are we the only parents who signed our daughter up for Science Camp?

The first day of science camp some of the boys made remarks about girls and their ability to do science. By the end, Ainsley had dispelled any negative assumptions about girls and their scientific brains.

Forty years ago women made up just 3 percent of science and engineering jobs; now they make up about 20 percent. That sounds promising, until you consider that women earn 56 percent of the degrees in those fields. A recent Center for Work-Life Policy study found that 52 percent of women leave those jobs, with 63 percent saying they experienced workplace harassment and more than half believing they needed to "act like a man" in order to succeed. In the past, women dealt with that reality in two ways: some buried their femininity, while others simply gave up their techie interests to appear more feminine, state a Newsweek article, Revenge of the Nerdette, this year.

I get some solicitations from Interactive Webgames designed for girls.

Here's the disappointing thing - their primary focus is on getting dressed, extra-curricular activities include going shopping and home decorating.

Getting dressed should take up maybe 20 minutes of a person's day. Unless you're actually a fashion designer or aim to become one, it really shouldn't make up the focus of your life.

Computer literacy is now a fundamental and necessary skill and girls should be encouraged to use computer time in a more productive imaginative way.

The computer games our girls should spend their time on should have a have a broader mission. Cure cancer, invent a new kind of engine, build a new building, heal the world's psyche, teach and learn.

For this reason I was happy to stumble on a website for children and a contest at InventNow.org. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has developed a game for children - both girls and boys - to introduce them to the process from inspiration to invention.

As parents of girls - we need to really encourage girls to make the fields of science and technology their own.

9 comments:

Aaron said...

Something should be considered for the sake of DNA though.

An associate I know who owns an IT company has two daughters.

Daughter #1 loves technology. Gadgets, wires, scripting, you name it. I asked him if he encouraged this interest and his reply was "no". He didn't encourage it, or discourage it, but it was around the house so she picked up on it on her own.

However, Daughter #2 is bored to tears with technology, and is more interested in Barbie and Disney Princesses, though the dad would definitely prefer the technology slant. As much as I know many don't want to accept it, there are differences in the sexes and there isn't anything wrong with that.

You can encourage all you want to steer a child in a particular direction, like when I tried to encourage Star Wars toys on my first child, who really could care less about that franchise in favor of other interests. Give them a healthy, "balanced", and opportunistic environment, but don't be shocked when they gravitate to the conventional thinking of their sex. Mother nature, you know, can be a powerful force.

I guess the case could be made for myself. I'm a male, but for the life of me I could care less about watching sports, though the other men in my family loves it. Yeah, it's fairly atypical for me to care less about the Superbowl, but its how I got wired. However, I accept that most men will like sports, even when not encouraged. Males are typically wired that way. Mother nature again.

I think the same thing could be said about women, because I would love for my wife to have the same passion about technology as I do. I think most guys would, because frankly, we're tired of fixing your crap :)

Tracee said...

Do you have a son who's most interested in getting dressed? Would you buy that game for him or let him toil hours and hours away on a computer game in which getting dressed was the sole purpose? They don't even market that game to boys.

Yes, PEOPLE have different interests. No one is saying they don't. Some like sports, some don't. Some like technology, some like gardening. No one is saying this isn't true.

I do consider this though - very few people in the world make a living from getting dressed. Science and technology is much more lucrative.

How would you know if your daughter has a natural interest in science or building if you never expose her to a science toy, game, or class? Lack of exposure sometimes appears to be lack of interest. But, it's not necessarily so.

Aaron said...

Is the market shaping us, or do we shape the market?

The old adage goes "throw a bunch of crap at the wall and see what sticks". The number one goal is to make money, not to shape a generation, it's society's job not to buy those software titles. The fact that they are being made means there is a hunger for them.

As far as getting dressed, lets face it, fashion is typically more important to women than men. Isn't this game merely an evolution of paper dolls?

I could complain as a father of young boys that my sons are being subjected to video games that promote violence and the killing of people, but I try not to take such matters personally.

Probably in the end, it's a software company's intention to offer a variety of entertaining titles that appeal to several different tastes.

Archer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tracee said...

I don't understand what about my suggestion that parents sign their girls up for science camp and expose them to science and technology games is offensive to men.

Are you defending your turf?

Mommy B said...

As a kid of the 80s I was busy kicking butt on the Street Fighter, Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda game series (actually, just spent this afternoon helping my son get through a level of the Avatar: The Last Airbender game) so seeing the games that are being marketed as "girl games" today really rubs me the wrong way.

But Aaron's "Is the market shaping us, or do we shape the market?" is an interesting point, and one that I struggle with all the time. I mull it out this way:

Sure consumers (meaning parents in this case) have the choice of what they buy their girls. And some girls will eventually decide whether they enjoy the standard girly fare (Barbie, Disney Princesses, etc) or whether they prefer to delve into something more technological.

But for a girl who does not have a parent or knowing adult who can expose her to technology or science, there isn't much choice. From music to television to toys, the prominent messages for girls are: let's get dressed up, let's put on makeup, let's get our hair done, let's model, sing, dance and put on a show, let's impress the boys...

How many girls are missing the chance to explore science, math and technology because they've never been exposed to it in a way that appeals to them OR they simply believe that those things are "not for girls"?

And it's not just girls being effected by these messages. As Tracee mentioned above, the boys in her daughter's science camp had also bought into the belief that girls were bad at science (glad to see your girl proved 'em wrong. Woo Hoo!). Kids are picking up these cues from somewhere...

Yaya said...

Yeah, I never realized that-but the little girl I nanny for just got a Nintendo DS and the games she plays are about getting cute animals and putting pretty bows on them.....okay=weird!

Tracee said...

Thank You Mommy B.

I would clarify - I do not allow Ainsley to play those most of the games. Especially the ones marketed to girls. She will be computer literate and it won't be focused on getting dressed or decorating her room.

I do allow Webkins, which has learning games on it. Even Precious Girls which is supposed to teach virtue is very focused on getting dressed and decorating.

And I AM the consumer saying - why are you marketing to my girl this way? Why won't you give us toys and games with productive activities - boys get to "save the world" in their games, because those are the ones I would buy?

I also noticed on Wii one of the games had a choice of 5 male characters and 1 single girl. How is that different than Super Mario Brothers with the one female character of the 80s? Answer it's not. And as the mother of both a girl and a boy I wonder why they don't make it 50/50 - like the real population of the world.

Girls play Wii, girls use computers, girls like and are good at science and technology. We need to expose them to more of it. We need them designing video games and creating the marketing and testing and creating medications for the whole population (not just men).

Marketers would do well to listen to consumers like me. It would be very profitable for them.

jeanie said...

Interesting discussion here.

I think that empowering girls products would be gratefully accepted by many.

Of course, I also know there are many who will continue to thrust dolls at girls and balls at boys and try to drive them in that direction - I think the software designed for fashion and such is a cop out, but then I have a girl who is totally horses, music and fashion. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Invent Now

inventnow.jpg

At the 2008 Women's Conference in California Dr. Condoleezza Rice stated, "We're not doing a good enough job of preparing girls for science and technology professions."

Myself, I wondered - Why are we the only parents who signed our daughter up for Science Camp?

The first day of science camp some of the boys made remarks about girls and their ability to do science. By the end, Ainsley had dispelled any negative assumptions about girls and their scientific brains.

Forty years ago women made up just 3 percent of science and engineering jobs; now they make up about 20 percent. That sounds promising, until you consider that women earn 56 percent of the degrees in those fields. A recent Center for Work-Life Policy study found that 52 percent of women leave those jobs, with 63 percent saying they experienced workplace harassment and more than half believing they needed to "act like a man" in order to succeed. In the past, women dealt with that reality in two ways: some buried their femininity, while others simply gave up their techie interests to appear more feminine, state a Newsweek article, Revenge of the Nerdette, this year.

I get some solicitations from Interactive Webgames designed for girls.

Here's the disappointing thing - their primary focus is on getting dressed, extra-curricular activities include going shopping and home decorating.

Getting dressed should take up maybe 20 minutes of a person's day. Unless you're actually a fashion designer or aim to become one, it really shouldn't make up the focus of your life.

Computer literacy is now a fundamental and necessary skill and girls should be encouraged to use computer time in a more productive imaginative way.

The computer games our girls should spend their time on should have a have a broader mission. Cure cancer, invent a new kind of engine, build a new building, heal the world's psyche, teach and learn.

For this reason I was happy to stumble on a website for children and a contest at InventNow.org. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has developed a game for children - both girls and boys - to introduce them to the process from inspiration to invention.

As parents of girls - we need to really encourage girls to make the fields of science and technology their own.

9 comments:

Aaron said...

Something should be considered for the sake of DNA though.

An associate I know who owns an IT company has two daughters.

Daughter #1 loves technology. Gadgets, wires, scripting, you name it. I asked him if he encouraged this interest and his reply was "no". He didn't encourage it, or discourage it, but it was around the house so she picked up on it on her own.

However, Daughter #2 is bored to tears with technology, and is more interested in Barbie and Disney Princesses, though the dad would definitely prefer the technology slant. As much as I know many don't want to accept it, there are differences in the sexes and there isn't anything wrong with that.

You can encourage all you want to steer a child in a particular direction, like when I tried to encourage Star Wars toys on my first child, who really could care less about that franchise in favor of other interests. Give them a healthy, "balanced", and opportunistic environment, but don't be shocked when they gravitate to the conventional thinking of their sex. Mother nature, you know, can be a powerful force.

I guess the case could be made for myself. I'm a male, but for the life of me I could care less about watching sports, though the other men in my family loves it. Yeah, it's fairly atypical for me to care less about the Superbowl, but its how I got wired. However, I accept that most men will like sports, even when not encouraged. Males are typically wired that way. Mother nature again.

I think the same thing could be said about women, because I would love for my wife to have the same passion about technology as I do. I think most guys would, because frankly, we're tired of fixing your crap :)

Tracee said...

Do you have a son who's most interested in getting dressed? Would you buy that game for him or let him toil hours and hours away on a computer game in which getting dressed was the sole purpose? They don't even market that game to boys.

Yes, PEOPLE have different interests. No one is saying they don't. Some like sports, some don't. Some like technology, some like gardening. No one is saying this isn't true.

I do consider this though - very few people in the world make a living from getting dressed. Science and technology is much more lucrative.

How would you know if your daughter has a natural interest in science or building if you never expose her to a science toy, game, or class? Lack of exposure sometimes appears to be lack of interest. But, it's not necessarily so.

Aaron said...

Is the market shaping us, or do we shape the market?

The old adage goes "throw a bunch of crap at the wall and see what sticks". The number one goal is to make money, not to shape a generation, it's society's job not to buy those software titles. The fact that they are being made means there is a hunger for them.

As far as getting dressed, lets face it, fashion is typically more important to women than men. Isn't this game merely an evolution of paper dolls?

I could complain as a father of young boys that my sons are being subjected to video games that promote violence and the killing of people, but I try not to take such matters personally.

Probably in the end, it's a software company's intention to offer a variety of entertaining titles that appeal to several different tastes.

Archer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tracee said...

I don't understand what about my suggestion that parents sign their girls up for science camp and expose them to science and technology games is offensive to men.

Are you defending your turf?

Mommy B said...

As a kid of the 80s I was busy kicking butt on the Street Fighter, Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda game series (actually, just spent this afternoon helping my son get through a level of the Avatar: The Last Airbender game) so seeing the games that are being marketed as "girl games" today really rubs me the wrong way.

But Aaron's "Is the market shaping us, or do we shape the market?" is an interesting point, and one that I struggle with all the time. I mull it out this way:

Sure consumers (meaning parents in this case) have the choice of what they buy their girls. And some girls will eventually decide whether they enjoy the standard girly fare (Barbie, Disney Princesses, etc) or whether they prefer to delve into something more technological.

But for a girl who does not have a parent or knowing adult who can expose her to technology or science, there isn't much choice. From music to television to toys, the prominent messages for girls are: let's get dressed up, let's put on makeup, let's get our hair done, let's model, sing, dance and put on a show, let's impress the boys...

How many girls are missing the chance to explore science, math and technology because they've never been exposed to it in a way that appeals to them OR they simply believe that those things are "not for girls"?

And it's not just girls being effected by these messages. As Tracee mentioned above, the boys in her daughter's science camp had also bought into the belief that girls were bad at science (glad to see your girl proved 'em wrong. Woo Hoo!). Kids are picking up these cues from somewhere...

Yaya said...

Yeah, I never realized that-but the little girl I nanny for just got a Nintendo DS and the games she plays are about getting cute animals and putting pretty bows on them.....okay=weird!

Tracee said...

Thank You Mommy B.

I would clarify - I do not allow Ainsley to play those most of the games. Especially the ones marketed to girls. She will be computer literate and it won't be focused on getting dressed or decorating her room.

I do allow Webkins, which has learning games on it. Even Precious Girls which is supposed to teach virtue is very focused on getting dressed and decorating.

And I AM the consumer saying - why are you marketing to my girl this way? Why won't you give us toys and games with productive activities - boys get to "save the world" in their games, because those are the ones I would buy?

I also noticed on Wii one of the games had a choice of 5 male characters and 1 single girl. How is that different than Super Mario Brothers with the one female character of the 80s? Answer it's not. And as the mother of both a girl and a boy I wonder why they don't make it 50/50 - like the real population of the world.

Girls play Wii, girls use computers, girls like and are good at science and technology. We need to expose them to more of it. We need them designing video games and creating the marketing and testing and creating medications for the whole population (not just men).

Marketers would do well to listen to consumers like me. It would be very profitable for them.

jeanie said...

Interesting discussion here.

I think that empowering girls products would be gratefully accepted by many.

Of course, I also know there are many who will continue to thrust dolls at girls and balls at boys and try to drive them in that direction - I think the software designed for fashion and such is a cop out, but then I have a girl who is totally horses, music and fashion. Go figure.