I'd like to take a moment to throw a fist bump into the air for some feats of awesome that's happened lately. Things that tend to be swept to the bottom of the news piles and things that may have been near the top of the pile but just slightly ignored. Let's start with Maryam Mirzakhani, the FIRST woman to be awarded the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in math. It's the Nobel Prize equivalent for math (there's not a Nobel Prize for math). There have been 52 winners since its inception in 1936 by the International Mathematical Union and all of them have been men. I think it's also important to note that IMU's president is Ingrid Daubechies, a prominent female mathematician. Though the number of women math majors are finally reaching parity with male students, women still make up less than 10% of full time math professors at the top U.S. universities. It's important to note that Maryam did not win the award because she's female or the president of the IMU is female. Maryam won because of her contributions to geometry and understanding curved surfaces.
When I was in high school, boys took shop class and girls took home economics. I don't remember anyone pushing me into the math and science area, but I was definitely under the impression that boys were just better at math than girls. Girls were better at English. I was reading by the time I started kindergarten so this was logical reasoning. But really, I have no recollection of what age where I noticed the shift between gender "roles". Don't get me wrong. I was never discouraged. I gravitated to biology because I found it (still do actually) absolutely fascinating, but I did see a great divide. This is the part where you think you're going to get a sermon on how important the STEM program is for girls. You would be wrong.
The STEM program is great. It's just fine and dandy. But here's an idea. What if we stopped associating things with gender all together? I love that Lego has released a set of girl scientist Legos, but I hate that they've had to release it as a special thing. Just have girl scientists in the regular Lego sets. Let's teach boys and girls how to use sewing machines. Then teach them how to create programs to run sewing machines. Stop using "you throw like a girl" as an insult, which brings me to my next moment of awesomeness. Friday afternoon, 13 year old Mo'ne Davis pitched a shutout at the Little League World Series. It's the first shutout by a girl recorded in the series' 75-year history. Baseball. So yeah, I wish I threw like a girl. Mo'ne, you are my hero.
I just have this one other thing. It's an old video, but worth it.