Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Nedum Aniemeka
This week at Ariel the girls had another TrueChild lesson on a very important topic regarding the choices girls are forced to make between popularity and studies. Often, adolescent girls are told that being interested in school is nerdy or not cool, while on the other hand popular girls are expected to only care about their looks. To discuss this problem, the girls drew a picture of an imaginary girl on the board and were asked to think of things that people would say about the girl. On one side the girls wrote things that people would say if the girl were popular/pretty and on the other side the girls wrote things that people would say if the girl were nerdy/studious.
The girls all agreed that the girl who was considered nerdy would not be as liked by boys as the popular girl. Shania said that boys may only want to talk to her if they are trying to get answers from her. When I asked the girls what they would say about the imaginary girl, they said they would think she was smart and hardworking but a little boring. For the popular girl, the Ariel girls thought that boys would say she was pretty and would want to date her. The Ariel girls said they would probably want to be friends with her.
The girls were then asked to think about what each imaginary girl thought about herself. Kiara noted that the nerdy girl would probably be sad because she didn’t have many friends and realized people only used her for homework. On the other hand, Alana said that the popular girl would think people didn’t want to get to know her past her looks.
So how do stereotypes affect girls’ desires to engage in science? According to Antoinette, if people always project ideas of what they think girls should be onto other girls, it will make girls only want to do things that make people like them. Because of that, a lot of girls may feel pressured to not come off as too smart or else people will think she’s weird or nerdy. But do the girls of Ariel buy that? No! We all want to make sure that girls feel comfortable exploring any interests they may have regardless of what people will say about them. Sounds like a good mission for Sisters4Science!