Growing and thriving of individuals: this might well be the main challenge of education.
Sometimes a figure is worth hundred words (especially if English is not, like in my case, your first language), so I've tried with a little diagram, portraying my personal, tiny and subjective view of the key elements hampering many girls (and boys, too) enjoying science (among many other things). It's the figure I've included.
As I said, this view is my subjective construction, and I’m striving to get it better. At the point I’ve arrived, mid-life. I realize this will not likely happen because of some intuition I’ll have. I need your help…
This is my view, by the way. As far as I see, anyone of us is first and foremost an individual. As such, s/he is a unique gift to the world. A drop, unrepeatable, of divine intuition.
And may grow, develop and thrive in the unique person s/he is, in joy, pain, and events of life.
This “natural” path of personal realization, fulfillment and growth seldom occurs in purity. We humans are social beings, and society is a powerful domesticating force. As humans we can survive only if accepted by others, and this poses on anyone a high, so sadly often unbearable, pressure.
Part of this pressure is quite abstract, even hard to discern from inside. It’s culture, and cultural norms. We often speak of, and take a stand with respect to it, but very few know of its existence, let alone accept it, on intuitive and personal grounds.
Another part is much less invisible. Rather, it’s pretty explicit and I bet you have experienced your part. It’s so. And so many times it come from the beloved. I was lucky in this regard: my parents (and some mentors) knew me so well, and acted towards me with unconditioned and respectful love, encouraging my inclinations. Thanks to them, I was able to withstand and resist the formidable pressures society places on us.
But you see, how tiny the box containing helpers, mentors and friends is, if confronted to the pressures to “conform”. For so many people this tiny box is even simpler to draw: it just not exists. And if so, you must have an incredible strength and firm inner light to realize your way. People this minded exist, and I have had the great honor and incredible opportunity to know some of them here in Pulsewire, and other places.
As a human being, I feel so clearly how sad and ever-lasting-regret-generating is, not being allowed to follow a personal, individually respectful path to adult life.
When we touch the specific subject of expectations and pressures about science, we have to consider a much more practical side. Today, wherever you are in the world you are demanded a high level of technological skill. This may be when you decide to accept a medical treatment, to deploy a fertilizer (provided you have access to), do family planning, evaluate how sustainable a loan will be, or design the next rocket to Mars.
As world becomes more interconnected, technology grows and gifts opportunities if used sensibly and sensitively. You have received this my little thing by the Internet after all, isn’it?
For anyone of us to reach our share of the world, we are all demanded one important thing: scientific literacy. Even if we are not scientists - and that’s precisely the case where the problem is more urgent.
Applying a big brake to girl development of scientific literacy then is not only something sad and unacceptable on a personal level. It’s a lost opportunity for the world as a whole.
Both these aspects, the personal and the world-benefit, are the core motivations for this tiny and, you’ll see on your own, naive attempt. As I mentioned, however, exposing these very tiny ideas wants not to be a Suggestion of the Authoritative Person. More modestly, is something I believe in. Less modestly, is a (quite indirect, I admit) request of help.