• Question: is it tru that most women/girls dislike science than men/boys?

    Asked by simran10 to James, Marcus, Martin, Rob, Suzanne on 19 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Suzanne McEndoo

      Suzanne McEndoo answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      that’s a complex question. There’s no reason why girls shouldn’t be as good at science or as interested in science. Really. Studies have shown no natural difference in this.

      The reason more boys than girls are into science is social. Even if they don’t mean to, people raise boys and girls differently. Boys are encouraged to be adventurous and curious, and girls are taught to be quiet and gentle. If you took two boy and taught one to ask questions and explore, and one to sit and work quietly, it would be no surprise to anyone that the first boy would be much more interested in things like science than the second boy.

      I was really lucky. My family encouraged me to do traditionally boyish things and wouldn’t let me think that anything was just for boys or just for girls. I also didn’t go to an all girls school, so I was able to take all the traditionally male subjects and nobody told me that being a girl meant I shouldn’t be into anything. I do have friends who were told that they shouldn’t be interested in science, or that they should find it hard, just because they were girls.

      We need to work much harder to get rid of these ideas. If anyone wants to do science, they shouldn’t feel like they can’t or shouldn’t just because they’re a girl. And at the same time, if a boy wants to do primary school teaching, or nursing or some other traditionally female activities he should be able to without being told he shouldn’t because he’s a boy or that it makes him less of a man.

    • Photo: Martin Zaltz Austwick

      Martin Zaltz Austwick answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      Having worked in different areas of science, I’ve seen a very different mix of men and women. When I studied physics at university, most people on my course were men. When I worked in medical physics, there were a lot more women, especially in Biology and Medicine. One of my favourite Medical Physics Professors is a lady. In architecture and design there are lots of women, and in my office now there are very good female mathematicians and physicists. The bottom line is you should study what you enjoy and forget about the rest.

    • Photo: Marcus Gallagher-Jones

      Marcus Gallagher-Jones answered on 20 Mar 2012:

      I agree with Suzanne the reason are very much linked to society. Traditionally girls were not encouraged to engage in things such as science and sports which I think has led to the skew in previous generations. I think though that this idea is starting to leave society and as generations grow up where these ideas do not hold true then we’ll see a big shift.

      For me being involved in biology the balance has usually been around 50/50 and sometimes skewed towards more women. This isn’t true however of the physical sciences though there really aren’t any good reasons for it. I really do think it is something that will balance out given time. I think now that younger girls are seeing women who are actively involved and successful in science then they will realise it is something they are capable of to.