I recently came across the science cheerleaders site and I love it. They feature real-life cheerleaders who also happen to be scientists. One of the women they interview is an African-American surgeon-lawyer-cheerleader. And yes, as you can see, from the picture above, they are wearing the standard cheerleader outfits. What this website says to me is you can be a scientist and you can be sexy, if that’s what you choose.
Now, this website is going to drive some of my colleagues crazy. They will see this as exploitation and objectification of women. They would prefer the glorification of the geeky nerd girl.
Personally I LOVE geeky nerd girls, however I also love the science cheerleaders, and whether my colleagues like it or not, a lot of girls will identify with cheerleaders more than the nerd girls.
I want the biggest tent possible for including women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – it’s about choice and potential – and if you have to choose to be a nerd girl to be a scientist a lot of young women will opt out. I like the idea of glamorous popular, sexy women scientists as role models and I love this website.
Becoming a female scientist in STEM should not be equal to being a nerd girl. If we ever want to significantly increase the number of women in STEM we will need to have ALL kinds of women joining the fold.
Recently, my longtime dentist, a woman of color, and mother of two, told me that maintaining her femininity has always been very important to her throughout dental school, and she never wanted to be one of the boys.
Lets have a tent large enough for all women to be in STEM – women who want to be one of the boys, nerd girls, cheerleaders, ALL women and girls should be able to work in a STEM career pathway, if they choose, without having to sacrifice their identity.
What do you think?