But What If The Science Cheerleaders Save Just One Girl?

Alex Dunphy (frustrated):  (mumbles stuff about math equation) Oh, this stuff is so hard!
Cute dude math tutor: Don't worry, you'll get it!  There are lots of women scientists!
Alex Dunphy (alarmed): But aren't they all fat?
--Modern Family, 11/24/2010

Okay, let's play what if. What if the Science Cheerleaders are responsible for making just one girl stick with her science & math classes - isn't it all worthwhile then?

Let's say the Science Cheerleaders do keep one girl in advanced science or math classes, but make three other girls feel like they have to pornulate themselves in order to be 21st Century Fembot Compliant While Doing Science, and make five d00ds feel like it is perfectly okay to hang up soft porn pictures of sexay hawt babes in the lab and harass some colleague because hawt science women WANT to be appreciated for being sexay and smart! - is it still worth it?

At K-State we ran a science camp for middle school girls. One summer there was simultaneously a football camp and a cheerleader camp for kids who were just a little older than our science kids. Our camp was called GROW, for Girls Researching Our World. All these kids mingled in the cafeteria. At the end of lunch one day, one of the football camp boys approached a small group of our science camp girls and asked them if they were there for the cheerleader camp (because why else would they be there?) "NO!" shouted one of them, who was a bit ornery and feisty. "No way! We're here for GROW!"  "Grow? What's that?"  "GROW, as in grow up, get a good job, and make a lot of money!" I doubt that young girl would have been inspired to explore science by a group of science cheerleaders (which is not to say she might not have been excited, in another venue, to meet some professional cheerleaders.)

Girls who had been at our camps could also sign up, throughout the year, to go on excursions to various engineering/science-related facilities, where they would get to see how professional scientists and engineers put their training to use in the workplace right there in companies in their own home state. They met with women scientists and engineers in those companies, who hosted the tours, had lunch with them, and told them stories about their lives. The comments we got back on evaluation forms - we did evaluations for all these events, pre and post evaluations, and long term follow up to see what impact the program was having - showed something really interesting and consistent over the time. The girls LOVED meeting women in the place where they worked. They loved seeing the clothes that the women wore to work - in many cases they were astonished to see how NORMALLY the women scientists and engineers dressed, that they looked just like "normal people", that they got to wear jeans, that they looked so comfortable at work, they they got to use so many cool gadgets and play with computers at work. They LOVED hearing stories about how the women got interested in science. And they LOVED hearing stories about what the women did in their spare time - that they had pets, went to church, played sports, volunteered in their community, what hobbies they had, etc. In short, that they did things not unlike other people the girls knew, and not unlike things they themselves were interested in doing or aspired to doing. What kind of car do you drive? they wanted to know. How much money do you make? How many years did you have to go to school? Did you have to study a lot of math? What do you do for fun?

They got to ask all those questions of women they had come to know in the course of a day through talking with them and seeing them in their workplace - seeing them in charge, seeing them as active scientists and engineers explaining and demonstrating their work to them. The women were real people, and the girls could imagine themselves growing up to become just like them. This was the feedback we got, over and over - "I could be just like them. I could wear jeans and work for x company and have a dog and drive a nice car and have my own home and do science!" And some of these girls went on through the high school girls program and on to college.

Now that is a lot of hard work and it takes years. And you have to evaluate along the way and keep refining your programs and adding stuff and fixing stuff and you have to work with the local school districts and teachers - because you also have to work with the teachers and the guidance counselors on doing a better job for the girls, to keep them in the science and math classes, and to advise them properly in choosing colleges, and because you want to track course taking and compare with control groups who haven't been to your programs. And sometimes you think, hey, x is a great idea! And you do it, and your evaluation shows it was a total flop, the kids hated it, or it didn't even register on their consciousness, or it had the opposite impact of the one you wanted, or it sent a completely different message than what you thought you were sending.

One great activity we did was this: the Career/Life Game. The girls had to roll a dice at the start, and they got a certain amount of money based on the roll - because not everyone starts out the same. They had to make choices on how to spend their money, and time. Work in high school? use the money to buy a car, or go to college? Get married? Have kids? Got to grad school? There were a lot of complex choices they had to make, but it was all in the form of a game - they had to roam from station to station, and they could collect "diplomas" if they made it through various degrees. After it was over we discussed their choices and outcomes with them, and whether they were happy, and what they might have done differently, and how starting out with more or less money affects your life chances, and what you can do about it.

I guess we could have just brought in cheerleaders to jump around and yell "Gooooooo SCIENCE!" But those kids, mostly from low-income families, needed and deserved a helluva lot more than that. IMHO.

We did a program for the girls and their guardians. It was originally going to be girls and their mother but then we realized a lot of these girls might be raised by a grandmother or other family member and we didn't want to limit it or make them feel bad, so we just said guardian. We talked about what guardians could do to keep girls strong and interested in math and science, and gave them materials with resources in the community they could draw on. We talked to the girls about what THEY needed to do to keep themselves on track for careers in science, and why those careers were worthwhile for them. We said stick with math - almost anything you want to do will call on math skills. We would play a game where we'd invite any girl in the audience to name a career and then we'd say why math was important for it. We'd always get supermodel - then we'd explain how if you were a fabulous rich supermodel you didn't want someone else managing your money and cheating you - you needed to be smart and financially savvy and know what was going on, so you'd get rich and stay rich - and that meant math.

There is, indeed, no reason why a woman can't be both cute and smart. But that was hardly the issue facing the young girls I saw in Kansas. It was lack of knowledge, lack of access, teachers and guidance counselors who didn't know what was necessary for sci/eng careers and didn't think it was all that important anyway to steer young girls towards them, parents who were overwhelmed and didn't know about these careers or how to take the first step to get their kids on the college prep pathway let alone to a sci/eng career, young girls who were just dying for adults to invest some time and energy in caring for them and their bright minds and what they were capable of doing.

Science Cheerleaders is, at the very best, an outreach program for already-privileged girls who are already interested in science/engineering but who are afraid it will make them look like fat lesbians.

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60 responses so far

  • Carrie says:

    Thankyou Zuska!

    I'm a young female honours physical science undergrad and I absolutely hated the cheerleading for science idea. I think science is cool in itself, and it doesn't need this sort of tasteless gimmick to promote it. I find it insulting to insinuate that woman in science are sexually repressed just because they don't adhere to the traditional views of what constitutes attractiveness.

    As for cheerleading for science, it will die the same as all gimmicks die the same. It will gather a huge amount of attention in the media (for a short time), hetereosexual white men will oggle women dressed in little outfits and the world will go on. As an outreach program that was ill-conceived, and *gasp* unscientific (no careful empiricism being used to see how effective it could be)...it will go the way of the dodo unless some dramatic changes are made.

    PS wtf does a science communicator do anyways? Translate science for norms?

  • Kate says:

    Thank you so much. I had difficulty putting into words my icky feeling about the Science Cheerleaders. What a great explanation.

  • jc says:

    I have the same exact experience with little girls and college women. I have taken so many of them to the lab, I show them stuff, they walk around with me asking me 1000 questions about everything from where did I buy my fuzzy shirt, are my earrings real, what does that machine do, how long was I in school, and on and on. I tell them to breathe so it gives me a moment to breathe!

    When I guest lecture, I get a line of women the minute I am done. I gave a lecture overseas recently, and there were college women lined up to have their picture with me - I was the only woman speaker. A woman from IRAN stopped me in the bathroom to ask for help with her research! As the cameras were flashing left and right, the women were still rattling off questions and poking each other to ask me questions. do you have kids? how many students do you have? how many papers have you written? how old are you? do you get paid to talk? how did you know you wanted to do this? One woman knocked on my hotel room door at 10pm, I was in my pajamas and had already been in bed which she didn't expect. She apologized profusely and started to walk away when I woke up slightly and asked what she needed. She said she wanted to talk to me, so I told her to come on in, I turned on the lights and cleared my luggage off the other bed. She stayed for about an hour asking questions, she laid on the bed writing notes in her language, I'll never forget it. She asked the same questions I get everywhere.

    Women want specifics, they want to know how how how exactly did I do this and that, every detail, every decision. I have written diatribes to women students about my life when they ask about grad school, picking advisors, postdoc hell, jobs so they know my story. I show them my transcripts, and go through my courses. I show my transcripts in my classes too to let the students know I'm not a rocket scientist, I didn't get straight As, but I worked my ass off with internships and research projects.

    PLEASE VOLUNTEER FOR SCIENCE FAIRS!!!!! Put Dr. First Last on your name badge and where you work/study, and go talk to the presenters. Walk up to them while they are standing there with their project, and introduce yourself as Dr. First and say you are a scientist and you study Cool Shit, shake their hands. Kids will be standing around waiting for judging, they will be there all by themselves, it's a perfect time. I have been a judge and a volunteer, and it makes a world of difference to those students to hear encouragement from Real Scientists, especially ones who look like them! Even at science fairs, I get questions about every itty bitty aspect of my life from the kids and their parents. Ask the kids what they like to do, do they have pets, do they like sports, what's their favorite place, let them talk and be interested in their lives back.

    I have given parents my email if they want to talk about college for their kids, and they do contact me saying their daughters were excited to talk to me. Adults LOVE business cards, they ask me constantly. So I finally had some made thinking that I probably would never be asked now that I got some. A few weeks ago, a woman who substitute teaches sat next to me on a flight and asked me about my work. I gave her my first card.

    One student emailed me to ask for an interview for a career day project and I wound up giving a show and tell for her class. The girls stared at me intently the entire time, studying everything I was doing. They told me about the things they wanted to do, one at a time, raising their hands. Science, teaching, medicine over and over. Getting them interested isn't a problem, they know what they want to do. They need help with how to make every step happen.

  • Donalbain says:

    I recently gave up teaching science in high schools, and I played a similar game to yours. I had a standing bet of a shopping voucher for any child who could name a job that did not involve some science. I never had to pay out. And it really helped to convince the kids that their time in my science lessons would be relevant to the rest of their lives.

  • You just hate cheerleaders because you're jealous of them.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    Science Cheerleaders is, at the very best, an outreach program for already-privileged girls who are already interested in science/engineering but who are afraid it will make them look like fat lesbians.

    ...

    .....

    OK...

    I'm having a hard time articulating this post, because I agree with this completely. And cheerleading sets off a visceral reaction in me (so guys get to be *on* the team, and girls get to *cheer* the team from the sidelines in a hyper-sexualised manner? Can I get a refund on this society? It's defective.) But...

    Those privileged girls, like it or not, are the ones who have the best shot at being the next generation of leaders of industry and media. This campaign is like IT Barbie - it normalises STEM as within the range of things that "girls do", for the (let's be honest) majority of girls who haven't yet heard that it's ok to do things that girls "don't do". Maybe it's good to take this opportunity to lay out the reasons why cheerleading is symptomatic of everything that's wrong in gender relations; but as for the campaign itself - there's room for more than one approach?

    *waits to get ripped apart, but expects justification*

  • Kea says:

    The biggest problem with 2010 sitcom (?) is that they don't have their facts straight: there are NOT a lot of women scientists. In fact, in my field there are almost none. Saving one girl in high school will result in ZERO improvement further up the ladder.

  • K says:

    Hi Zuska, Thank you for this post! I'm an academic in an engineering department thats in the early stages of starting some initiatives to do more to better support the female students we already have, and to inspire more girls to consider becoming scientists and engineers of the future. Incorporating findings of studies/investigations into what works and doesn't work has been an important part of our process in developing our plans. There aren't all that many out there tho! I'm wondering whether you've published any of your evaluations/follow-up results on the programs you've run for girls?

    • Zuska says:

      K, are you familiar with WEPAN? Go to http://www.wepan.org and click on the link for the Knowledge Center. You can search there for research in specific areas you are interested in. There are resources specifically for K-12 programs. Also check out the link for the National Conferences. There is a searchable digital archive for all past conference proceedings. WEPAN conferences are a great resource for the latest in what works in outreach, retention, recruitment, & program evaluation. K-State is only one of many universities that have been working in this area for a long time. I urge you to take advantage of the wonderful resources collected at the WEPAN site. Also, consider looking at the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, if you aren't already familiar with that resource.

      One article that describes the beginning of the team's efforts at K-State is "Building a Network to Support Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics", Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, vol. 10, Issue 2, p.40, 2004
      DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v10.i2.40

  • bsci says:

    I'm still a bit more mix on science cheerleaders (though your Summer program sounds great). I would say there is no question that a program like this will make not just one, but many girls feel more comfortable with science. It might even make some men treat some women as serious scientists regardless of their appearance. The question is the corresponding level of harm. You are postulating that it will reinforce a lot of bad stereotypes that hurt women in science and women in general. While I agree with you that the bad stereotypes are bad, I question whether a program like this will make bad things worse. If it makes life better for some and maintains the status quo for others, that's a net positive. If it makes it worse for some then things get more complex.

    I'll also put forward that Science Cheerleaders can do a lot of good and seriously work on mitigating the negatives. For example, I've read the blurbs of the scientists on their website and haven't watched the videos that seem to be annoying everyone. Perhaps the science cheers are useless, but building on the scientist/cheerleader biographies is useful. They're also branching out into biographies scientist/athletes. At the core of this initiative, you have a bunch of scientists and science communicators who come from diverse paths not usually associate with science. Several of the blurbs talk about scientists who were NFL cheerleaders as a job to help pay for their education.
    I just can't figure out what this group of people using their voices to encourage people to stick with science is a bad thing.

    Zuska, I've usually be more in agreement with you than not, but in this case, I think you're throwing a few too many stones instead of suggesting what a dynamic group of people could do to promote scientific learning.

    • Historiann says:

      Srsly? Did you read the whole post? Because her description of her work with GROW at K-State was exactly "what a dynamic group of people could do to promote scientific learning."

    • Cara says:

      It might even make some men treat some women as serious scientists regardless of their appearance.

      How on earth would this program encourage men to respect women?

      Men who already respect women won't be affected one way or the other. Men who don't aren't MORE likely to respect women because they're shaking their pom poms for science instead of for football.

      • bsci says:

        @Cara, Did you read what I wrote? I am specifically not talking about the videos and more about the content on the website describing the women's career paths and how they became both scientists and cheerleaders (or other types of athletes). I'm focusing more on the potential of this initiative.

        @Historiann, Yes I did read Zuska's post. Having more programs with elements of GROW is a good thing. Having programs that have a reach much farther that a summer program at K-State is a very good thing. This program is not currently that but I think it has the potential to take and increase the reach of some of the good parts.

        • Cara says:

          I’m focusing more on the potential of this initiative.

          If the potential and the message and the website are so marvelous, why do they need to shake pom poms to draw attention to it?

          Oh, wait. That's the only way women get attention. Sorry, I forgot.

          • bsci says:

            I don't think they need to shake pom poms to draw attention to their message. It might attract some attention and it also might make people like you lose the rest of the context.

            Have you read the scientist interviews on the site? This organization is building of a cohort of really interesting spokeswomen for science careers. They're still trying to figure out how to best utilize their people. Look past the $#!@ pom poms and try to figure out what these women can do to best promote scientific education and careers.

          • Cara says:

            NO. I'm not going to look past the very thing that is intended to draw attention. It's absurd.

    • Finbarr Ryan says:

      If it makes life better for some and maintains the status quo for others, that’s a net positive.

      The status quo hurts people every day. Maintaining it is certainly not neutral.

  • Rugosa says:

    It might even make some men treat some women as serious scientists regardless of their appearance.

    bsci, your comment encapsulated what I think is wrong with the cheerleaders for science - I don't think such a program can have the effect you suggest, since it reinforces the societal norm that women are judged first and foremost on their looks. Sure, the cheerleaders may be smart (unfeminine!) and doing great work in the lab (not just support staff!), but it's really OK because they look good in short-shorts.

  • JanedeLartigue says:

    I think the program you described here sounds absolutely fantastic, and I wholeheartedly agree that this is the kind of thing that we need more of and that will help to encourage girls to stick with science and maths courses. But I don't see why this has to be mutually exclusive to the science cheerleaders? Why can't they both be methods of promoting science for kids? You say that "Science Cheerleaders is, at the very best, an outreach program for already-privileged girls who are already interested in science/engineering but who are afraid it will make them look like fat lesbians" and this is where I have to part opinions with you. I think it's entirely the other way round. The girls who came to your camp must have already had to have an underlying interest in science in order to sign up for that particularly camp. Based on the description of the young girl who feistily stands up for herself, most of them don't need to be told how great science and that it can be 'cool'. But let's face it there are probably a multitude of girls in high schools around the country, and not just girls from privileged backgrounds, who may have an interest in science, but don't think it's cool enough to pursue, and don't stand up to the people who tell them it's just for 'fat lesbians'. To me it's precisely this that's the problem. The science cheerleaders could help to make science look a bit cooler for some of these kids and combine it with an activity that's more 'socially acceptable' in the high peer pressure world of high school. What's wrong with that? And I have to say that people are kidding themselves if they think scientists get paid more than say the professional cheerleaders, this isn't a career that you choose for the money!
    I think any campaign that aims to improve the perception of science for young kids that are going to be it's future is a great thing, and I don't really get the problem that a lot of people seem to have with it. I'm English and we don't have cheerleaders at our schools but it seems to be incredibly popular over here and it's great that we can harness that popularity for a good cause. People seem to be more bothered about how the cheerleaders are perceived by the rest of society than by the kids themselves. My five year old niece does a cheerleading class because she loves gymnastics and singing and jumping around, and to me that is how kids perceive cheerleading rather than as sexist and degrading. To me it seems this debate is more about the public perception of cheerleading and how that should maybe change, than about how this is instilling negative stereotypes for science.

  • People seem to be more bothered about how the cheerleaders are perceived by the rest of society than by the kids themselves. My five year old niece does a cheerleading class because she loves gymnastics and singing and jumping around, and to me that is how kids perceive cheerleading rather than as sexist and degrading. To me it seems this debate is more about the public perception of cheerleading and how that should maybe change, than about how this is instilling negative stereotypes for science.

    People keep falling back to this argument that the problem isn't the intrinsic nature of cheerleading itself, but some sort of mistaken "public perception" of cheerleading and anyway, it's disgusting to even mention hott sexxay bangability in the context of little girls and they just like to jump around and dance in glittery outfits and to even raise the connection is perverted.

    The underlying assumption is that hott sexxay bangable is a bug in the cheerleading program, and if people just “open their minds” and “change their thinking”, then this bug can be rooted out.

    This is simply flat-out fucken delusional. Hott sexxay bangable is not a bug in cheerleading; it’s a feature. In fact, it’s the killer app.

  • Isabel says:

    Jumping around in spangly outfits and shouting 'go!' and spelling out simple words starts to sound almost harmless--when it's described as something 5-year-olds do.

    That's what makes it different, at least for me, from dance and other activities it's been compared to; it's strangely infantile.

    Here's something positive, for those who didn't see it on Ed Young's blog (especially for K above)

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/11/25/15-minute-writing-exercise-closes-the-gender-gap-in-university-level-physics/

  • Darlene says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Many of the discussions you described as taking place at GROW also took place at the USA SciFest with the Science Cheerleaders. It's impossible to demonstrate the depth and breadth of the efforts in a 2 min video. Of course they did more than "cheer for science." These women spent most of their time talking to people about science and chatting to young girls and boys about careers in science and engineering (and why it's important to understand math and science).
    The response has been overwhelmingly positive (particularly from moms). You certainly don't have to agree with the approach. I respect your opinions. But, in the future, by all means, feel free to contact me directly to clarify important assumptions. You know how to reach me. 
    And if there are more efforts we can highlight when talking with moms and young women (e.g. GROW) we'd love to--and will--do so.
    To all who support the Scicheer effort, thank you. Everyone else, I do value your opinions and I take them seriously. As I see it, we're fighting the same battle. We happen to prefer the use of different weapons. I can't imagine there is a "one size fits all" tactic to employ but, again, one of the things we (scicheers) can do a better job of is pointing girls to successful programs available to them now. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this. 

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Isabel says:

      "You certainly don’t have to agree with the approach."

      Thanks you for letting us know we don't have to agree with your approach (I love the corporate speak btw) I feel so much better about this whole discussion now.

      So, did you take down the anti-feminist slurs from your web site at least?

      • Nepenthe says:

        I think anti-feminism is a feature, not a bug, in this approach. Such slurs will make the cheerleaders less threatening and more approachable, so why on earth would they be taken down?

    • skeptifem says:

      Yeah Darlene, because your intent is magic and makes science cheerleading about whatever *you* want it to be, right? Please. Go look at what men say about it and then tell me that its about science education. Typically things that are actually about science education don't result in boners and frat boy types making sexist comments about womens bodies. The girls you taught about science aren't deaf, *they will hear* the nasty pervy shit men say about the science cheerleaders, and realize that their appearance is an issue in a way that it isn't for boys.

      Shit maybe it is educational, but not in the intended way. I don't know how young you want girls to learn that the world hates em, especially when there isn't any counter point presented at all.

    • Cara says:

      But, in the future, by all means, feel free to contact me directly to clarify important assumptions.

      With all due respect, we're not assuming--there are the pom poms, right there.

      And now that you mention it, doesn't the fact that the focus of the two minute video was the pom poms tell you something?

  • Amii Lockhart says:

    I don’t understand the point you were trying to make when speaking of the GROW camps. Why wouldn’t any girl want to know the ins and outs of various careers and what has that to do with the science cheerleaders? Are you implying that these various scientists that made the cheerleading video would wear cheer uniforms to their labs and offices?

    I wonder if all this controversy could have been avoided if SC had included one or two male scientists in the video. I don’t think it was from any ulterior motive so much as tunnel vision since they are trying to promote the sciences to girls.

    I think science cheerleaders might be of benefit to the girls you saw in Kansas, because it would let them know that those careers are out there. My opinion on the SC video is that it will do more good than harm. I think it will be a bridge for very young girls to learn there is a scientific community out there that includes women (at all). Then maybe when invited to call out a career, the girls in your audience will stop saying supermodel so often.

    BTW, I found your last paragraph nothing more than absurd and insulting speculation.

    • Zuska says:

      If you don't understand the point of my post, your "opinion" that the SC video will do more good than harm is just that - an opinion. You are certainly entitled to have one. It's not the same things as a reasoned argument or a hypothesis based on facts and research.

      Why on earth you think you need to share your opinion on a post you admit you don't understand staggers the imagination.

      I can imagine why the last paragraph of my post seemed insulting to you. If you are incapable of comprehending what I wrote, and cling to the opinion that cheerleading is a purely wholesome non-pornified activity that does not support heteronormative gender roles in a patriarchal society, then yeah, trying to wrap your mind around how SciCheer reassures affluent girls that gender non-normative careers will not make them fat lesbians like everything in society tells them it will would be a stretch for you.

      • Amii Lockhart says:

        You berate me for having an opinion without benefit of a reasoned argument or a hypothesis based on facts and research, but your post is nothing but opinion with nary a fact to be found. You set up a hypothetical question where there can be only one possible acceptable outcome (h = gain 1 girl to science, lose 3 to pornification). That is not a reasonable hypothetical. Your evidence is anecdotal and only includes cheerleading in a obscure way (there was a camp nearby).

        I understand the point of the post. Per my original comment, I don’t see how your experiences with the girls at GROW are relevant to the science cheerleaders video and your position on the video. You assumed that those GROW girls would not be inspired by the video. But you never showed them the video, so how could you know? Your assumption is counter to my experience with girls that is overwhelmingly that they love all things cheerleading, the outfits, the yelling, the clout, the pom poms. That I have observed this doesn’t make me happy about it and doesn’t invalidate your different observations. But it does illustrate that you are merely advancing your opinion.

        Your response was defensive given that the only thing even slightly derogatory in my comment was my last sentence. You’ve made broad stroke assertions about me based on…what? At any rate, they are wrong. I did not find your last paragraph insulting and absurd because I am “incapable of comprehending what (you) wrote,” or that I “cling to the opinion that cheerleading is a purely wholesome non-pornified activity that does not support hetero-normative gender roles in a patriarchal society.”

        • Zuska says:

          You wrote "I don’t understand the point you were trying to make when speaking of the GROW camps." And then you wrote "I don’t see how your experiences with the girls at GROW are relevant to the science cheerleaders video and your position on the video. " So, basically, in your own words, you don't understand the whole point of the post. Being able to parse what you read and understand the argument someone is advancing is a necessary first step to advancing your own counter-argument. In the absence of that, all you can do is what you have done, state that you don't understand it, but that you have "opinions".

          • Amii Lockhart says:

            "So, basically, in your own words, you don’t understand the whole point of the post."

            That is simply not true. You have either not made a relevent connection between GROW and SC or you have not properly contrasted the two with any facts or research - your stated standard.

            The only opinion I've put forth is that SC will do more good than harm, and the only thing I offered for that opinion was personal observation. Hmmm, that's the exact same thing you offered for your opinion. Don't expect me to find it anymore relevent than you have found mine.

  • [...] whole cheerleader thing. This big fucking war of words. It’s hard to even know what the conversation is about anymore. And I had a tough [...]

  • Katharine says:

    I do think the Science Cheerleaders are rather anti-feminist and extremely dopey.

    I think the problem would be solved more quickly, though, if we attacked the meatheads first. You know. Men and women with double-digit IQs. They should be the targets of our disgust most of all, really.

  • Katharine says:

    Actually, throw the Science 'Cheerleaders' in with the other idiots, too. They all perpetuate the problem.

  • Katharine says:

    Me, I'm a proud biology student who's going to get her PhD in science and be a great scientist.

    And I don't need to use my body to do it.

  • SB says:

    I'm not a big blog-commenter, but I've been thinking about this whole SciCheer thing and wanting to say something. It's just so offensive to me on so many levels.

    I'm a woman in science, but I guess my fat ass and ugly wardrobe mean I shouldn't even bother? After all, I might be making little girls think that all female scientists have saggy boobs and can't dance, after all.

    I have never wanted a cheerleader. I wanted teachers who didn't punish me for reading too much, and my public high school to have chemistry lab supplies made in the last few decades. I wanted someone to tell me that struggling through calculus would be worth it because I could get a graduate degree and a job I love, not because I could still be cute and sexy.

    If science is the sport, then the role models should be the athletes, not the cheerleaders. I don't watch hockey thinking "It would be so cool to be able to wear a bedazzled crop top and clean the ice during tv time outs!"... I think "It would be so cool to be able to handle a puck like that!"

    Girls don't need cheerleaders. They need guardians and teachers that encourage them because they are smart and capable, schools that have decent supplies, and communities that support education.

  • Isabel says:

    "Men and women with double-digit IQs. They should be the targets of our disgust most of all, really."

    Why? Where does this deep seated obsession come from, Katherine? How will attacking unfortunates with lower IQs solve the problem? Did you read the thread over at Labspaces? Tideliar, the most offensive poster on the thread, bragged right on the thread about his high IQ.

    BTW are you familiar with Steve Sailor's blog? I think you would really like it.

  • Girlpostdoc says:

    Awesome idea and incredible post! You've inspired me to get involved - thanks Zuska.

  • Katharine says:

    "Why? Where does this deep seated obsession come from, Katherine? How will attacking unfortunates with lower IQs solve the problem? Did you read the thread over at Labspaces? Tideliar, the most offensive poster on the thread, bragged right on the thread about his high IQ."

    Because, oh, let's see, they're the audience the people perpetuating this nonsense are pandering to, and they, the morons that they are, lap it up. And you can't fix stupid.

    Tideliar may just be an asshole, but he's probably reformable.

  • Katharine says:

    Besides, Isabel, have you forgotten that these gibbering idiots are the ones who know about squat about such things as evolution and global warming, who vote for Republicans, who are sexist, racist, brainless arsebags, who have higher rates of incarceration, drug addiction, et cetera...

    I could go on and on.

      • Katharine says:

        Shit, Isabel, just because I bring up the concept of IQ at all you apparently are implicitly calling me a racist.

      • Katharine says:

        The paper he linked to is an intriguing one, though, I'll tell you that.

        Put it this way: the racial issues regarding IQ are, to actual intelligence researchers, a function of environment. Idiots such as Sailer and VDARE apparently think it's somehow inherent.

        Fix the environmental issues and it'll even out.

        What you are not grasping is that my beef is with people who would probably still be gibberingly dumb even after this amelioration, e.g. George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, the average teabagger, PeTA members, etc.

        • Isabel says:

          But you are very specific- double digit IQs. You even said those "who have higher rates of incarceration". Sounds pretty racist to me, when you put those two together.

          • Katharine says:

            That occurs in all ethnic groups.

          • Katharine says:

            One could theoretically peg you as the racist in this argument if you're automatically equating 'higher rates of incarceration' and 'lower IQ' with 'non-white'.

          • Isabel says:

            Okay, last comment (I promise) since this has gone off-topic and I know how much that upsets people: I didn't call you a racist, but I did implicitly call you a scapegoater, which you are; and, seeing as I know a lot of wonderful people who have lower IQs than some pretty awful people, I find it offensive and unsubstantiated.

            I did imply that you were pretty closely aligning yourself with racists, although if you challenge Sailor about his obsession (I have) he will say he's not obsessed, and that he agrees it is environmental. He will then quickly add that in similar environments blacks still have lower scores (they do, though how similar the environments are is obviously questionable) , etc and intelligence has evolved. There are also lots of people who feel Jews are smarter than average...

            And many people *do* make the connection between the higher rates of incarceration of blacks in the US (much higher than whites as you well know) with their lower measured intelligence and other factors (supposedly higher testosterone etc). I don't know why Razib links to Sailor's blog?? but all I'm sayin' is it's a slippery slope.

          • Katharine says:

            "I did imply that you were pretty closely aligning yourself with racists, although if you challenge Sailor about his obsession (I have) he will say he’s not obsessed, and that he agrees it is environmental. He will then quickly add that in similar environments blacks still have lower scores (they do, though how similar the environments are is obviously questionable) , etc and intelligence has evolved. There are also lots of people who feel Jews are smarter than average…"

            I agree with you on this point. What do you mean by 'how similar the environments are is obviously questionable'? Not that I disagree, because I have no clue how similar the environments in question are.

            (Speaking of Jews, I wouldn't be surprised if a large part of it is the cultural emphasis on education, much more than many other cultures, which I consider a big plus for them because education is good. Being in an environment where development of one's brain is encouraged, plus being raised by parents who attained a lot due to being educated, makes one's IQ likely to be higher. I am not a Jew myself, before you ask.)

            Accusations of slippery-slopeism I counter with the fact that that is a recognized informal logical fallacy.

            "and, seeing as I know a lot of wonderful people who have lower IQs than some pretty awful people, I find it offensive and unsubstantiated."

            1) Wonderfulness is subjective, largely. I might find the people you find wonderful to be abhorrent, and I might find the people you find awful to be good people. And it depends what their IQ is, too.

            2) Fellow named Terman did some research on this correlating rates of incarceration, fertility, dropout rate, etc. with IQ. It's not unsubstantiated at all.

            Whether it's offensive to you or not I don't care about. :D

            2)

  • Zuska says:

    I don't think there is any demonstrated correlation between low IQ and assholery. If there were, people with Down syndrome might be expected to be raging assboles, and they are not. Plenty of "smart" people are douchenozzles (c.f. St. Kern). Let's stop this kind of chatter on TSZ.

  • [...] sembra aver convinto più di un blogger nel sua battaglia di comunicazione scientifica popolare. Ma non tutti sono d’accordo, e con la disparità di sesso nel mondo della scienza attuale, il modo in cui le donne vengono [...]

  • Cara says:

    Yeah, yeah, your spam. Fuck off.

    Was it Isis who came up with the science cheer?

    "e to the x dy dx! e to the x dy!
    secant tangent cosine sine! 3.14159!!!!"

    I think that was it.

  • Zuska says:

    I remember that cheer from my grad school days at MIT!