Few girls take shop: Is it a problem?

A “shop stigma” is keeping girls out of traditionally male vocational courses, NPR worries.

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, which said no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from any education program or activity. Vocational education courses that barred girls — such as auto mechanics, carpentry and plumbing — became available for everyone. But it’s still hard to find girls in classes once viewed as “for boys only.”

Zoe Shipley, 15, is also the only girl in her high school’s auto tech course. Her parents are pressuring her to switch to engineering, which they see as less greasy.

Her high school’s construction management courses attract only a few girls, NPR adds.

It’s up to schools to “take extra steps” to recruit girls to “courses that lead to higher-paying careers in technology and trades,” instead of low-paying fields, such as child care and cosmetology, says Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women’s Law Center.

I think schools should make sure students know how much they’re likely to earn if they pursue auto mechanics, carpentry, child care or cosmetology. But the low female enrollment in auto shop isn’t really about bias — or parental pressure.

Update: In praising Title IX in a Newsweek commentary, President Obama said it’s a “great accomplishment” for America that “more women , , , now graduate from college than men.”  I know he didn’t really write it, but he should have read it before he let it be sent out. Far too many males are doing poorly in school, failing in college and — because they didn’t learn vocational skills such as auto mechanics — struggling in the workforce. This is a serious problem for America — and for the young women who’d like to marry a guy with a decent job.

Can gaming close the high-tech gender gap?

To close the high-tech gender gap, “encourage your daughters to play video games,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told Dana Goldstein.

. . .  childhood gaming and hacking experience has motivated many computer programmers to enter the field, including Sandberg’s boss, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The leap toward more advanced computing comes not only from playing games—today, 94 percent of girls are gaming, compared with 99 percent of boys—but in becoming curious about how they work and then beginning to tinker with code in order to modify game results. Boys are still much more likely than girls to explore this type of simple computer programming, and not every young girl who is curious about how computers work has an encouraging parent at home or the hardware she needs.

So it’s not just the gaming. It’s the tinkering. My nephew just got hired (first paying job out of college!!!) by a company that makes “pink market” fashion design games.  Girls might learn about fashion design, but I don’t think they’ll learn programming. That’s Alan’s job. (He may know less about fashion than anyone on the planet.)

K-12 educators are trying to hook girls on the “computational thinking” that makes programming possible, writes Goldstein.

The Academy for Software Engineering, a public school whose curriculum will be built around computer programming and Web development, will open in New York City this September. Just one-quarter of the incoming freshman class is female, but the school’s founders, who are closely tied to the New York tech community, have ambitious plans for pairing female students with women mentors working in the field, in order to tamp down on attrition, direct girls into meaningful careers, and recruit more female students to the school in future classes.

In Pajaro Valley, Calif., south of Santa Cruz, researcher Jill Denner launched a program that teaches low-income Latina girls and boys, in gender-segregated classrooms, to create their own computer games.

I’m skeptical that mentors or “pink” games will turn girls into programmers, but I guess it’s worth a try.

No red flags in single-sex classes

The ACLU is sending “cease and desist” letters to schools and districts that offer single-sex classes, reports Ed Week.

“We all want to fix failing schools, but co-education is not the problem, and single-sex education is not the answer,” said Galen Sherwin, a staff attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, in a press release. “Over and over, we find that these programs are based on stereotypes that limit opportunities by reinforcing outdated ideas about how boys and girls behave.”

Single-sex classes are popular with parents, teachers, principals and students, writes Sandra Stotsky, who studied single-sex classes in two Arkansas public elementary schools. She found “no academic downside” to giving parents and students what they prefer.

In one school, single-sex students — especially boys — did better in reading than students in a mixed class. In another school, boys in the mixed class did better on one reading test than boys in the all-male class.

The teachers, parents and principals agreed that single-sex classes seem to provide less distraction for both sexes, better accommodation of each sex’s interests, better learning environment for shy or quiet children, more opportunity to use examples for academic concepts and class readings tailored to each sex and more opportunity for leadership skills of each sex to emerge.

On the other hand, a few teachers and parents perceived them as causing girls to become chattier and boys less polite and too competitive.

Girls were more likely than boys to request single-sex education, Stotsky notes.

More research should be done before banning the single-sex option, she argues.

 

Feminizing STEM? It can backfire

Female college students need encouragement to consider predominantly male STEM careers. However, feminizing science careers is a turn-off for middle school girls, a study finds.

Study: Teachers think white girls can’t do math

High school teachers think white girls can’t do math, concludes a University of Texas study.  “Even with the same grades and the same test scores, the teachers are still ranking the girls as less good at math than the boys,” says Catherine Riegle-Crumb, co-author of the bias study. By contrast, teachers’ perceptions of minority students’ math abilities matched their achievement.

 

Stress + hysteria + teenage girls = epidemic

The Mystery of 18 Twitching Teenagers in Le Roy can be explained by teenage girls expressing stress in physical ways (“conversion disorder”) and mass hysteria, suggests a New York Times Magazine story.  The epidemic started with high-status girls and spread to the less popular. A search for environmental toxins — ones that affect only adolescent girls — fueled the panic.

Science vs. single-sex classes

Science Doesn’t Support Single-Sex Classes, argue Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers in Education Week.

The loud, hissing sound you hear may be the air coming out of the tires of a much-hyped vehicle for improving American public education: the single-sex classroom.

. . . A consensus is emerging among scientists that single-sex classrooms are not the answer to kids’ achievement issues. This fact appears to be true even for students of color, who are often seen as those most likely to be helped by sex-segregated classrooms.

In The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling, published in Science, eight psychologists and neuroscientists “found the rationale for setting up separate classrooms for boys and girls ‘deeply misguided’ and ‘often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence’,” Barnett and Rivers write.

Lego goes girly: Is it sexist?

Lego Friends — pitched to pastel-loving, beauty shop-visiting, fashion-designing, cafe-chilling girls — has annoyed feminists, who say it urges girls to obsess about appearance, reports the LA Times.

The new line, whose characters sport slim figures and stylish clothes, will contribute to gender stereotyping that promotes body dissatisfaction in girls, said Carolyn Costin, an eating disorders specialist and founder of the Monte Nido Treatment Center in Malibu.

. . . The toys send girls a message “that being pretty is more important than who you are or what you can do,” Costin said in a statement.

“We heard very clear requests from moms and girls for more details and interior building, a brighter color palette, a more realistic figure, role play opportunities and a story line that they would find interesting,” said Mads Nipper, executive vice president of  the Danish-owned Lego in a statement. Lego Friends isn’t the company’s only girl-friendly product, Nipper said.

Boys win on girls’ swim teams

Boys are competing — and winning — on girls’ swim teams in Massachusetts, reports the New York Times. Boys do especially well in the 50-yard freestyle “in which strength can trump talent or technique.” That raises the possibility that the state champion in girls’ freestyle could be a boy this year.

State law requires equal access to athletic opportunities and some schools have cut boys’ swim teams.

Equality sucks, writes Rhymes with Right.

‘Unwanted’ girls get new names

Indian girls named “Nakusa” or “Nakushi” — which means “unwanted” in Hindi — have received new names, reports AP.

The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.

Some girls chose popular Bollywood names. A 15-year-old girl named “Nakusa” by her disappointed grandfather chose “Ashmita,” which means “very tough” or “rock hard” in Hindi.

There are only 881 girls for every 1,000 boys in Satara. Neglect of girl babies and sex-selection abortions are common. Periodically, federal or state governments announce free meals and education for girls or cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.

Via ShortWoman.