Please Don’t Forget the Boys
I’ve been seeing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) getting a lot of exposure lately, which is great. However, it seems to be almost solely focused on girls. Whether it’s movies like “Hidden Figures” and “Dream Big”, viral videos that focus on girls excelling in science, advertising for STEM education products that feature girls or focus on girls, or articles that highlight women in technology, etc., it seems that most mainstream media regarding science and engineering feature females.
I think it’s great that girls are being encouraged to enter the hard sciences. They have been underrepresented and under-encouraged for too long. We can never have too many scientists because there’s an infinite number of truths to be found, problems to be solved, ideas to be created, and realms to be discovered. But for this same reason, we shouldn’t neglect the boys. When you’re driving on an icy road and you feel yourself sliding off, overcompensating won’t straighten you out. It will cause you to crash, just on the opposite side.
One of the reasons why I’m inspired to write this is that I have a precocious 6 year old boy. He’s tested in the 98th percentile in math. He can add and subtract 4 digit numbers in his head. He understands fractions, as well as multiplication and division. He loves designing things, and playing with mechanics like winches and levers. His dream is to build an AT-AT out of junk cars. And, I know that I’m not the only one with a son like that. There’s lots of boys like that, and they need encouragement and support as much as any girl does. They may also be the one that finds the cure to cancer, revolutionize space travel, or build the better mousetrap.
I understand that there’s been many centuries where girls were discouraged from getting any education, let alone in the hard sciences. I understand that we need to make up for that. However, this generation of boys had no part in the discrimination of years past. The history that they look at will be the one they are living now, not the time when men were the only scientists. Like I said, we can never have too many scientists. So, please, don’t forget the boys.