Girls Don’t Need Science


The provocative headline is intended to draw you into my blog because, yes, girls do need science.

I’m guilty of a fib.

But when I was a girl I truly thought I should forget science.

Who needs it?

Rather than studying, I spent my time in junior high school applying lip gloss and shortening my skirts. In science class I passed notes to my pals and rarely opened the book.

I was more interested in boys than science.

My teacher sent me home with a note to my parents midway through sixth grade science class because of my poor performance. At best I was looking at a D grade.

Problem was that my grades were good in almost everything else—English, History, French—but science and math were suffering.

I had already lost the argument with my mother that girls didn’t need math. So when it came to science, I informed her that I was just dumb.

Oh really, she asked.

So my mother told me that she would accept poor performance in science as long as the teacher would agree that my hypothesis could be supported: I was dumb.

If my teacher agreed, then my mother would back off and I could eschew science.

I was pretty certain my teacher would confirm my hypothesis. So I presented her with my prospectus: I was dumb.

Boy, was I wrong.

Not only did my teacher say I wasn’t dumb; she said I could be an excellent scientist.

When I reported the news to my parents, they promised to hold me to a high standard when it came to science.

Crushed at first, I slowly changed my mind and began to pay attention and found that science cast a bright light.

I continued to embrace science and fell in love with biology (and boys, too).

My science teachers would be pleased to discover I found a way to mesh science with writing and that I carved out a career as a scholar.

Mother was right: I was smart, not dumb.

Photo courtesy of the National Science Foundation


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in Native Science, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Girls Don’t Need Science

  1. Ahhh. Gotta love those teachers. I remember once I thought a long-term substitute teacher couldn’t get in contact with my mother because she was travelled frequently for work… Imagine my surprise when over the phone, my mother repeats word for word what I said to the teacher.


  2. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting,
    and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough people are
    speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this during my search for something regarding this.


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