As much as I hated to name this blog post that way, it had to be done. I’m referencing the comment made by former Treasury Secretary & Harvard University President Lawrence Summers who suggested that there might be a genetic reason that women don’t excel in math and science related fields of study. The question “what’s with chicks in science?” was asked by an attendee of a panel discussion at the Center for Inquiry.
The person brave enough to respond to the question was Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of the new Cosmos series. His answer was quite honest and thought provoking and brought me to tears.
How much talent have we discouraged due to social norms and prejudices? What could society possibly gain by intentionally discouraging bright young minds of all kinds to stretch and grow to their full potential? Doesn’t that seem counterproductive? Imagine what we could have accomplished by now if we had been wise enough to see beyond the fear and stereotyping. It’s enough to take your breath away.
Some of you may say “But Amy, we’ve come a long way”. That is true, but we have a long way to go. I had to explain to my daughter’s seventh grade math teacher that when he pits the boys against the girls in a problem solving contest it becomes less about math and more about gender. If the boys win, boys are just smarter than girls. If the girls win, well that’s just a fluke. Let’s teach our kids to work together as a team!
One reason I like Mr. Tyson is his passion. Where’s OUR passion people? Why was I the only parent who had a problem with the whole ‘boys against the girls’ concept of teaching? No one else said anything, and hadn’t for years. Why is that?
I say we show this video to every parent and every educator in the country. A tall order I know, so let’s get going!
Thank you Mr. Tyson for your insight and your bravery for saying it like it is.