Helping to level the playing field


As leaders in science, engineering, and education, we are
concerned with the suggestion that the status quo for women in
science and engineering may be natural, inevitable and unrelated to
social factors.
… Society benefits most when we take full advantage of the
scientific and technical talent among us.
“As leaders in science, engineering, and education, we are concerned with the suggestion that the status quo for women in science and engineering may be natural, inevitable and unrelated to social factors. … Society benefits most when we take full advantage of the scientific and technical talent among us.

“It is time to create a broader awareness of those proven and effective means, including institutional policies and practices, which enable women and other underrepresented groups to step beyond the historical barriers in science and engineering.” – Association for Women in Science responding to Harvard President Larry Summer’s comments that “innate differences” account for some of the reason women don’t succeed as often as men in technological and scientific fields.

Signatories include Astronaut/Professor Sally K. Ride, a former U.C. Santa Cruz student and Stanford graduate – and the first American woman in space. (from the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, The Flyer, 4-6/05, p. 8).

As the ongoing debate heats up over whether innate or societal barriers account for the presence of less women in scientific fields, there is fresh interest in an old summer standby: science camp.

Thirteen-year-old Katelyn Warner, a gifted student in the sciences and daughter of Carolyn and John Warner of Gilroy, has signed up for a special science camp for girls at Stanford in July. The Sally Ride Science Camp for girls was founded by the former astronaut, whose private company now specializes in science education programming. Sally Ride Science has partnered with Education Unlimited to provide innovative science programs for girls entering grades 6 through 9, the time when girls are most likely to decide for a variety of reasons (including peer pressure) that they just aren’t “any good” at math or science.

“Any mathematician or scientist will tell you that there was a turning point in their childhood that told them, ‘Wow – this is what I want to do,’ ” according to Susan Hackwood, executive director of the California Council on Science and Technology. The Sally Ride Science Camp encourages girls’ interests in science by giving them hands-on science learning and activities in an environment that is designed to be supportive and enriching.

Katelyn and two of her classmates won an award earlier this year in the National Engineers Week Future City Competition regional finals, held in San Francisco. Their futuristic model, called “Emerald Forest,” demonstrated how a city might operate in the year 2050.

This summer, girls at the Sally Ride Science Camps will choose from: 1) Astronomy (Water Rockets Project); 2) Marine Science (Creative Creatures Project) or 3) Robotics (Robotics Challenge Project).

At the same time Katelyn is at science camp, Eileen Collins (the first woman to ever command a space shuttle mission) will be preparing for STS-114, the “Return to Flight” Space Shuttle Mission planned for launch between July 13 and 31, 2005.

Katelyn has agreed to keep us posted and will give a report about what she has learned when she returns home from camp. Hopefully she will come home more inspired and excited about learning than ever. It’s going to be a great summer.

“If I were king, I would redress an abuse which cuts back, as it were, one half of human kind. I would have women participate in all human rights, especially those of the mind.” (Emilie du Chatelet, translator of Newton).

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