Female Students Competing Competitively Soars (my thoughts)

Hey everyone!

Not sure if you've heard, but check out this article here [link]

"High school science students Simran Rajpal (L) and Janet Zhong (R) have been selected to represent Australia in the International Science Olympiads."
Hermant, N. (2015, 15th July). Numbers of competitive female high school science students soars. ABC news. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-15/competitive-female-high-school-science-students-soar/6546858
Hell yes, proper citation.

"Nearly half of the teams competing in this year's International Science Olympiads will be made up of girls — the largest percentage by far since Australia started taking part in the event." -- ABC News

That's a big change. It is.

Flashback one year ago and I found myself in the situation where I was the only girl on any of the teams for the last two years.

At first, being the naive young student I was, I never really thought about the social-stigma and the lower participation of females in the S.T.E.M fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). It never really crossed me as an issue, and when asked for my opinion on this issue several times last year, it never occurred to me the underlying influences that lie at the root of this problem.

Over the last year though, I've given it a great deal of thought. With recent controversy regarding the sexual harassment of Surgeon Caroline Tan and Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt's comments about female scientists, there's been an incredible amount of discussion about this topic.

And that's good. That's definitely good.
And to think that so many more women have come forward with more sexism stories (such as in surgery, after Caroline's situation surfacing), the least we can say is that it is concerning. 

But, let's get back onto the topic.

It's great news! This article about females participating in the Olympiads! It really made my day. This is what we need. We need to show young girls that everyone can follow their dreams and achieve, regardless of their gender, who they are, or where they come from. 
I never had that female student to look up to when I was younger. Scientists? In my young head, they were always male.

With an underlying societal culture that seems to implant in young girl's minds that their career path is destined to end in raising a family and becoming a housewife, many girls (including myself) seemed to think that they would never really achieve anything tremendous in life. I never considered becoming an academic when I was a young girl because it just wasn't something I was exposed to. What did women do when I was a child? They worked, but then they settled down and had a family. End of story. At least, that's what I gained from watching the media, and that's what I thought I would do. Nothing more, nothing less. And that's what terrifies me. That even though I loved science so much as a child, I never considered it a 'feminine' thing to do. It took me many years to realise how ingrained this hidden stereotype was inside of my little head.

We're in the 21st Century! In a world where we have such incredible technology and humanitarian efforts, it strikes me as surprising that when I was raised, I had few female role models in science. 

No woman stood there and showed me, told me, or inspired me to dream to reach the top. I was a girl who grew up reading about Einstein, and Newton, and Darwin. Watson and Crick, amongst many more. I admired them for their contributions and discoveries, but never was there an emphasis on female scientists, until high-school. But even in high-school, all we learned was how so many women (cough cough Rosalind Franklin) simply were not recognised for their efforts (referring to the Nobel prizes) because they were female

Yes, I understand that this is important -- learning about history and understanding the reason why they weren't awarded -- that's definitely a great thing; to get students thinking about the sexism that existed in the past and to discourage it. That's not the point I'm trying to say. My point is that as young women, we are bombarded with images of male scientists succeeding, and females not. And after 18 years of that, you start to accept it as the norm, especially since they don't present us with any modern-female scientists that are game-changers. I started to think that that was just how things were.

Perhaps that's why I associated so much more with male scientists as a young girl. Because that was all I saw. I loved science. Males tended to succeed at science. I was in a strange cross-section where I admired them, but couldn't completely identify with them, because they didn't have to face the social expectations that seem to dampen females in STEM. That is, until I stumbled across Marie Curie

To say that she was a role model is an understatement. To the young girl that I once was, she was an idol. She was a game-changer. She showed me that women can have a place in science. I didn't need to associate with only male scientists now. I had a female counterpart that showed me it could be done! Despite the pressures of society, she pushed through and showed them that she, too, could do great things. It made me think that perhaps, just maybe, I could do something as great as her too.

That's exactly what inspired me as a young student, and it completely changed my life around. 

Okay, so back to this article. 8/17 students are female, and I'm really hoping that this will have a flow on effect and girls all across Australia will be encouraged and inspired to give these things a try! From my experience, this is exactly what young girls need to be shown. They need to be shown that they can do it. They should give it a try. Who cares if it's not the norm? There's Grade-A evidence that it can be done -- 47% of this year's team members are female! It really warms my heart to see a change finally coming into action.

No matter who you are, what society's stereotypes say about you, or whatever personal circumstances you're in, that shouldn't stop you. 
Life's too short to doubt yourself just because of silly things like society's expectations. It's okay to swim in the minor stream, y'know?

Okay, rant over. Phew, I think I needed to get that out of my system. 
Right, exams coming up so catch y'all later.

Take care!


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Hello! I'm a student from Australia. I like photography, am aspiring to be a Doctor, have fallen in love with many things that life has to offer, and hope to see more of it. I've been blogging for a while and over the years what it means to me has changed. Currently still trying to figure that out, but here I am in a weird hybridisation of photography, film, blogging, and the confusion of a young adult, you'll find me here writing about my experiences and life. Or whatever tickles my fancy. Whether that's entertaining or not is yours to decide. Stay hydrated, kids.