Barbara McClintock, a pioneer and giant in the world of genetics, not to mention science in general, was born over a hundred years ago into an era of gender roles that essentially dictated where a girl would go in life. Today, while there may not be an overwhelming embracing of traditional gender roles, many hard-to-shake undercurrents of sexism remain. In fact, with regard to the sciences and engineering, a female student may currently pursue and earn a doctoral degree -- representing nearly ten years of post-secondary study -- without ever having had a female instructor or mentor. The issues of gender in teaching and learning science extend much further back into a girl's life, however. A trove of studies point to the fact that girls simply have not been supported or encourage by their parents or teachers to pursue math, science, and engineering careers. To counter this and to instill a tone of support for girls, innumerable new scholarships, programs, resources, and organizations have been formed in hopes of having the Barbara McClintocks of the 21st century be the norm rather than the exception.
The first site, from the January 15, 2003 New York Times, is an article by Tamar Lewin highlighting a study that shows a lack of women in tenure-track appointments at major universities -- despite the fact that women are earning more and more doctorates in the related fields of study. The second link takes visitors to the website of the researcher, Donna J. Nelson, at the University of Oklahoma who was the principal investigator of the NSF-funded examination of women and minorities in science and engineering. This second site, The Nelson Diversity Surveys is exceptionally comprehensive, offering all of the data from the surveys from the past several years as well as the reports themselves. The third site, Women in Technology International is the main site for this international organization celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. The next site, Women of NASA, is a great collection of information highlighting those individuals that have contributed to the world of space science. The Teacher Tips section offers some great teaching resources -- even entire websites with lesson plans. An interesting paper concerning the study of retaining undergraduate women in science, math, and engineering is found at the next site. Carol Muller and Mary Pavone of Dartmouth College offer this white paper -- hosted at the Frontiers of Education site at University of Pittsburgh -- which explains the Dartmouth Women in Science Project and other similar projects in order to offer suggestions for other universities. The next site, the home of the Beloit College Girls and Women in Science project, offers a look into this intrepid program to excite and support middle school girls about the wonders of science. Certainly one of the first programs of its type, the Girls and Women in Science website also offers valuable historical information about girls and science learning as well as a great resource section. Finally, the last site is hosted by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory -- the home of Barbara McClintock for most of her professional life. The biography offers a great look at this truly invaluable 20th century scientist and a remarkable person.
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