Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. I know this because I was tagged in a tweet to celebrate it. While I thought it was cool, I was also a bit confused.
If you know me, you know a scientist I am not. Science is not something I would say is in my skill set. However, I understand the link. Science is a part of my job now; yesterday I spent the better part of the morning on calls that were essentially about fish biology and stock assessments. This is normally where I make a smart alec-y comment about it being as fascinating as it sounds, but the truth is, sometimes it is interesting, even for us non-science folks. (Did you know that since the groundfish collapse that groundfish species are not growing as large as they did in the 1980s, even at the same age? Or that lobster will only produce eggs in a very narrow water temperature window?)
That doesn’t mean I think I have developed any aptitude for science. I once spent the better part of a presentation about an RV survey picturing scientists floating on the water in a Winnebago, only to discover it actually meant Research Vessel (For the record, I still think my version is way cooler). At a meeting last month the computer changed the font from English to what I’m pretty sure was Japanese. My lack of comprehension didn’t change.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science seeks to raise awareness to close the gender gap between females and males who graduate with a degree in science. I remember in school being told that girls can’t do science as well as boys. I also remember taking a provincial physics exam and ending up in a high 80th percentile, but maybe that was just the girls section. 🙂 In some ways being told that challenged me to try and do better; maybe that was the point.
I hope that attitudes have changed in the over 20-some years since I graduated from high school, but a quick google search of females in science turns up story after story after story. Clearly there’s still a perception issue with girls in science.
Maybe acknowledging it’s cool to tagged as a woman in science (even if you’re sort of not) is a good start.