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Mentoring & women in sci

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Thu May 6 18:00:50 EST 1993

In article <chlamy-060593122544 at chlamy.botany.duke.edu> chlamy at acpub.duke.edu (Elizabeth H. Harris) writes:
....I'm retaining all of Elizabeth's note for a reason....

>I wonder how many female K-12 readers there are out there.  As the parent
>of three teenagers, I have observed with dismay that fooling around with
>computers is a popular recreational activity among my son's friends, but
>that my daughters' friends have little or no interest in this.  These are
>bright girls, many of them from academic families, many with home computers
>available.  They even use these computers to type school assignments.  Yet
>computer games, much less programming or network communication, are not
>considered "acceptable" activities for after-school or weekends.  Likewise,
>they don't take part in many science-related activities for fun.  The rare
>girl pursuing scientific interests is doing it alone.

I'll take the occasion of Elizabeth's note to say, that recently I scanned a
"new book" on the shelf at our University's library......and there was
a chapter about "Are girls' games different than boys' games."  And in
the first two pages the author stated that established research (citations
listed) has consistantly found..... (and now I paraphrase):

   boys: play highly complex games        girls: play low complexity games
   boys: play long games                  girls: play short games 
   boys: bring conflicts to resolution    girls: rarely resolve conflicts

The citations included female researcher(s)....haven't a clue to who they
are and I don't recall the book's title.

Now, after some of you have wiped the froth away (well, the chapter intro
surprised me for what it chose to contrast)...look again at Elizabeth's
description/contrast of *her* male and female childern....using the three
contrasts I listed. 

Now think of why the "pipeline leaks women"...to bring back the Science
Special Issue with the young girls on the cover.  Think of your own career
since you started college, the stages passed through and think of
all who have been peers along the way...try using the above contrasts.

>When I was 12, I wanted a telescope more than anything, and was considered
>very strange, whereas a boy with similar aspirations would have been
>thought "normal".  Times don't seem to have changed much.

And I'd simply say: your daughter(s) are not looking to *you* as a female
role model...or to any of your *female* colleages or to any of your
*daughter's* friends' female academic parents.......of course, kids seem to
start to really ignore parents and many adults right after the onset of
puberty.  :^)  Young heterosexual boys think of nothing but girls and sex 
after puberty...and frankly, if daydreaming is a measure of gameplaying,
the surge of testosterone seems to drive *up* the complexity, length of
engagement, and the confrontation with situations fraught with conflict....
and I haven't got a clue what post-puberty girls' mental life is like at
all (not a clue then or now).

>All of which suggests that yes, girls still need female role models, and
>the net might be one way to connect budding scientists, but first, they may
>need to be brought into the electronic fold.

Allison Peacock, KC4NNH, age 7, resident of Goldsboro, NC came in just one 
month ago to attempt the Advanced Amateur Radio Operator's License exam (this
is an on-going saga of remarkable accomplishment).  The exam is 50
questions drawn from a pool of 500 questions on radio regulations,
operations and especially radio circuit theory (such as interpretation of
a multi-transistor amplifier circuit).....

I watched her from time-to-time during the
exam....too short to sit given the height of the folding table....confirmed
for myself that she ALONE is reading the questions to herself (we read the
exam questions to blind examinees and dislexicts [sp])....clearly she knows
how to use her scientific calculator to do the math questions involving 
chained formula-based calculations (she clearly did not skip those
questions).....and on *this* her first attempt of the HARDEST of the series
of six written license elements, she did not pass.  No big deal....I can
just say that this exam contains TWICE as many questions as each of the
three previous progressive written elements that she had passed AND that
the number she got correct would have passed her for those shorter exam
elements.  :^)  So Allison has mastered, in four months time, stuff that
might appear first in an upper level science course in an advanced-placement
Science-and-Math High School, such as we have in Durham, NC.....
or it might come up the first in College Physics.....but she
needs to master just a bit more and I would not be surprised at all to see
her at the Cary, NC hamfest to take the exam again...if she doesn't try it
first in Durham in two weeks.  :^)

Just a bit more about Allison: last Fall when she came in and passed her
General Class license, she walked into the exam room and signed in and
paided up UNescorted....took her exam and walked out into a very crowded
hamfest...mostly men.  About 1/2-hour later her grandmom popped in and asked
us how Allison had done on the exam (female role model?...she works with
Allison to "get the words down"....but no Peacock females other than
Allison have a ham license...and I know that she talks to her extended
family in NC via ham radio becuase her dad, grandfather and and great
grandfather are active hams)....

At this last exam, Allison walked in alone, signed in, paid up, got her
exam and went to work.  Later I noticed a woman waiting for Allison because
after Allison finished and got the no-pass news, she walked over to a women
sitting alone by the entrance.....UNLIKE other adults ESCORTING their
DAUGHTERS that day...Allison was the only young female "on her own"...the
other parents for some reason thought they had to chaperone their daughters
around (remember, Allison is seven y.o.) and would have SAT NEXT TO THEN
during the exam if we didn't say: "she's on her on during the exam." 

I went over as Allison was putting on a sweater and said to the woman: 
"We are terribly proud to have Allison here to take the exam with us...she
didn't pass today, but actually she did pretty good."  And to Allison I
said: "Study some more and we will be looking for you when you came back
again."  Allison smiled...clearly taking her performance in stride!  :^)
And she knows that she's got another 9 months or so to finish up her
Advanced written and then pass the next and final step, the Extra Class
written element, before her 20-word-per-minute Moprse Code certificate expires
nd she has to take it again.  (It's that passing-20-words-per-minute on
the first try that gets the most head-shaking and eyes-rolling...) 

>Elizabeth Harris
>chlamy at acpub.duke.edu

As far as we can tell, Allison is socially "normal"; and, frankly, because she
is SEVEN YEARS OLD, what she ALREADY has done gets a lot of open admiration
from all other ham radio operators, mostly WHITE MALE TECH-TYPES, but
including females also.

I'll bet, just bet, Allison plays complex games in her head, is able to
concentrate on something complex and alien for an extended period of time,
and has resolved any non-ham radio peer pressure about whether HAM RADIO is
an "acceptable after-school or on-weekends activity" for a 7 y.o. girl.

Of course, when I got my ham license at 14, I was thought to be strange by
all of my peers, male or female....and probably nothing has changed that
much from what I can see from the relatively low number of young people
(male and female) that come in to sit for a ham radio license.

So, though I chose Elizabeth's note to pivot from, what I've is quite
general from what I've been able to observe of people......on a thousand
restarts of human-evolution, science and math would have been originated
and ramified overwhelmingly by MALES, though we know that females CAN be
capable to the highest degree.....and the primary difference between males
and females that I am aware of throughout higher mammalian evolution is
the ratio of- and serum level of TESTOSTERONE-to-estrogen...and for the
curious, go read the anecdotal and scientific literature on
females-taking-testosterone-shots to increase sexual-receptivity and

|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
|     At e-mail:  nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu                           | 
|                 samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu                |
|                 [ either email address is read each day ]        |
|     By snail:   Crop Sci Dept, Box 7620, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695 |
         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.    (c)

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