It always feels awesome when something I shared on Twitter is retweeted so many times, my phone starts to chirp. That is what happened on Tuesday when I heard the news that the winners of this year’s Google Science Fair were all girls.
Comments on the retweets included “Woohoo! Get it, girls!” “This news makes me so happy,” Who runs the world…,” “That’s awesome!” and “Hooray!” Were these tweets from anti-boy feminists? Heck no! But I get asked that question, either indirectly or directly, when I cheer on a headline about girls running the table at a competition. Spelling bee, chess, science fair, mathlete, and so on.
I am sensitive to how the cheering looks. Believe me, I do. I went through a very long and deep “Girls Rule, Boys Drool” phase. It wasn’t until I was a mom and raising my daughter that I was smacked in the face with the complexity of raising a pro-girl girl without making it sound like we were being anti-boy.
I am also aware that the tide is changing. Women are going to college more then men (that’s been happening since at least the 1990s) and girls are the majority of high school valedictorians. I get it. And yes, more women are heading into science, especially the fields the girls did their experiments in (chemistry, medicine, environmental science, biochemistry). But that does not mean we can’t jump up and cheer when we see three brilliant young women win like this.
This is why. Even for someone who has a degree in biological sciences, sees the progress on a daily basis, and watches first hand young women evolve into promising researchers, the “Girls don’t do science” taunts just never seem to fully go away. For some of the women in my life who were talked out of science, told they can’t do math or all the above, headlines like this are validation that their third grade teacher was wrong, wrong, WRONG! And yes, for some of us, it is also just plain and simple celebrating that 39 years after Title IX, a mere two generations, we are witnessing what it truly an exhibit of girl power. Three young women unafraid of their brain power holding some pretty kick ass LEGO trophies.
In the end, no matter how far we have come, women and girls in science still have a long way to go until we get to not just parity in numbers, but parity in leadership roles, paid fairly and so on. Until we get to that utopia called “parity” I’ll be cheering on all our victories, large and small.