This Saturday is the International Day of the Woman and Girls in Science Day. While researching this newsletter, I read several articles passionately explaining the existing gender gap, and how women were still unrepresentative within the STEM industries. They gave persuasive facts, shocking figures and painted a clear picture of the disappointing current situation. But a scroll down to the ‘Comments’ section, people kept repeating the same thing – “Why does it actually matter?”. Science is about facts – in its nature it is about eliminating bias to find the answers. So why does the gender of who does that work matter?
There are many, many ways you could answer that question. I would respond by asking to look at the list of inventions below and see if they could spot a theme.
The disposable nappy. Invented by Marion Donovan in the 1940’s
The retractable dog lead. Invented by Mary A Delaney in 1908
The domestic dishwasher. Invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1839
Ice cream maker. Invented by Nancy Johnson in 1943
Alphabet Blocks. Invented by Adeline D. T. Whitney in 1882
Ironing Board. Invented by Sarah Boone in 1892
Electric Fridge. Invented by Florence Parpart 1914
Coffee Filter. Invented by Melitta Benz in 1908
Central Heating. Invented by Alice Parker 1919
Foot Pedal Bin. Invented by Lillian Gilbreth
Home Security System. Invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown
These were all invented by women! This list of inventions are things many of us use on a daily basis – but at the time that they were invented they were very much within the ‘women’s domain’ of housekeeping. Representation – in all industries – is important not just for who is conducting the work to solve a problem, but what problems we choose to solve.
In honour of International Day of Women and Girls in STEM, perhaps go through this list with your class and ask them what everyday problems they would like to solve.
And if the problem YOU would like the solution for is ‘How do I deliver an engaging STEM activity for my class without having to spend hours prepping? ‘ – check out out STEM Club (At School) Boxes!