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#GirlsWithToys

Monday 20 July 2015 at 9:27 pm.

17,000 women and girls stormed twitter, posting thousands of pictures in May of 2015. It all started with an uproarious interview on NPR with Shrinivas Kulkarni, astrophysicist. He said science is just “boys with toys.” Out of the whole interview, those three words was a reminder that gender bias stereotypes still exist.  

Women from around the world posted pictures with their equipment, tools, and “toys” they use everyday. These thousands of photos show how many women are involved in science, the critical roles they are playing, and what science is all about. Science is not all about studying by a textbook, but experimenting, playing and getting your hands dirty.  

There were two wrong points in Kulkarni’s comment. One, boys and girls can have “toys.” He is saying that boys only do science, or at least boys are the only ones who play around with their tools. By using the word “toys” he is also saying that only scientists do their work for their own enjoyment. I’m not saying that scientists don’t have fun doing their job, because curiosity and discovery is always enjoyable. In fact, many people from all different backgrounds would be more interested in math and science if they knew it was not all like what they teach you at school. Sciences and math is not just learning from a textbook in the real world. It can be creative, fun, useful and completely new. However, science is also done for the good of the people, to make the world a better and safer place.

“Every time we impose gender on an action or a role—and every time we reinforce that gendering—we are placing limits on people. ‘Boys with toys’ is a very specific stereotype of scientists. It brings to mind not only the phrase ‘boys will be boys,’ one that tends to exempt boys and men from paying attention to culturally appropriate behavior, but also the idea that scientists perform science only for their own enjoyment. I am guessing that every single scientist out there is a scientist because it brings him or her happiness….but many, perhaps most, are also a scientist because they think their work will lead to a better world. They want to engage with the universe, their planet, and the people on it because science makes those interactions more meaningful. They want to bring science to more people, to get a chance to share that delight withas many others as possible” (Kate Clancy, the creator of #GirlsWithToys).

The main way to get more girls into STEM careers is to show young girls role models. Show them that there are women working in these fields, having fun and doing what they love, but most importantly, being able to escape from those gender biases to become a woman scientist. Right now, we have over 17,000 role models on the most popular social media network. The new modern age may finally have it’s advantages in this, unfortunately, long battle.