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As Soon As I Heard Them Sing, I Knew — These Girls Are The Future

This one goes out to anyone who thinks girls don't like science...

As Soon As I Heard Them Sing, I Knew — These Girls Are The Future

Houston, we have a situation. We need more women to enter — and stick with — science and math fields.

Why?


There's a pretty big gender gap in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

Closing that gap will create more equality and help close the larger wage gap, but it will also mean that women are more represented in the technology and discoveries that shape the way we interact with the world around us.

I certainly don't want to live in a world where all computers and machines are made by men, do you?


No, I don't think Nichelle does, either.

So what can we do?

It all starts with girls.

Research points to a few different factors, including career choices and various barriers to entry, but the one I want to talk about — the one that the little ditty below can help with — is stereotypes during early education.

By that I mean the pervasive belief/impression/lie that boys are better at science than girls.

This is obviously NOT TRUE, but it can be really harmful, because when girls believe this is the case, they don't do as well in math and science.

So how do we get girls to be confident in their scientific abilities? For starters, we can do something as simple as playing them this song.


Sing it with me! Science Riot Girls...

Some facts!

1. Women today earn 41% of Ph.D.s in STEM fields but make up only 28% of tenure-track faculty in those fields. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations, and the wage gap between men and women in STEM jobs is smaller than in other fields.

2. On tests measuring visual-spatial abilities, middle-school girls scored poorly when they were told that boys do better on these tasks but higher when they were led to believe that there were no gender differences.

In 2015, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price had a life-changing epiphany.

Price, who founded Gravity with his brother in 2004, was out hiking in the Cascade Mountains with his friend, Valerie. She told him her landlord had raised her rent by $200 and she was struggling to get by on her $40,000 a year income. Price, who was making $1.1 million a year as CEO of Gravity, was struck by her story. Not only did he feel for Valerie—a military veteran working two jobs and barely making ends meet—realized that some of his own employees might be facing similar struggles.

And they were. One employee frankly told him his entry-level salary was a rip-off. Another employee had secretly been working at McDonald's outside of work hours to make ends meet. So Price decided to make a drastic change by investing in his employees.

He researched how much money the average person would need in order to live comfortably and settled on $70,000 a year. In one fell swoop, he dropped his own salary to that amount, while also making it the minimum salary for anyone who worked at Gravity.

The move drew media coverage—and dire predictions from pundits. On Fox News and other conservative outlets he was called "foolish," a "socialist" and a "lunatic of lunatics." Rush Limbaugh called the company policy "pure unadulterated socialism" that was "going to fail" and should be a case study in MBA programs on how socialism doesn't work. Talking heads predicted that his employees would end up in the welfare line.

Six years later, Price has proved the haters wrong—by a lot.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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