back to article Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Energy giant EDF is in hot water for setting up a competition to encourage young women to get into science and technology careers – and then awarding the top prize to a 13-year-old boy. "In the UK, only 1 in every 7 people who work in science, technology, engineering and maths is female," the competition blurb reads. "Our …

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I wonder

If there was a drive to encourage boys into teaching, nursing, etc.; would it be called Handsome Interested? (After reading so many articles about sexism, I've become sensitive to it.)

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Re: I wonder

would it be called Handsome Interested?

Well that's covered about 2% of the male population. What about the rest of us?

Big boned interested for the larger gents

Grizzled interested for the older gents

Scrawny interested for thinner gents

Fugly interested for gents blessed with a Crimewatch face.

Or maybe we should accept that the genders make their choices intelligently, abandon wanky competitions and ignore the hand wringing by feminists in the Graun.

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@frank ly (was: Re: I wonder)

There was an effort to teach more men to cook at Foothill Jr. College in Los Altos a about three decades ago. The feminists went berserk. Their theme was "men already have all the opportunities!" It was funny, in a sad kind of way.

That said, my wife throws 1800 pound horses around, I do maintenance, the gardening, cooking and coding, and my daughter is a C programmer & Member of the Technical Staff working for a Fortune 50. Atypical? Perhaps. But we like it :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder

They've been trying that in Norway since the late 70s, but men still rarely enter those professions. Those that do tend to be seen as weird, emasculated and possibly perverted by their female co-workers and are usually fairly isolated as a result.

Very few women work in construction and engineering or other similarly intensive fields.

This is despite the government providing grants and creating laws requiring gender equality.

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Re: I wonder

"Very few women work in construction and engineering or other similarly intensive fields."

On the other hand, I've noticed over recent years that there are many more women in white safety helmets using theodolites around road works and building sites. Maybe they stand out and are memorable BECAUSE they are women, or maybe there really are quite a lot going for that sort of work nowadays.

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Re: I wonder

There is a big jump in the number of women in those fields in Norway.

But it has had a bit of a backlash - the news is full of groups of photogenically news friendly 21 year olds who just graduated with degrees in oilfield geology/offshore engineering/etc and none of the class received any job offers.

Here in Canada they are being laid off as mining/oil projects are mothballed. The normal last-in first out means that most of the people kicked out are recent/new grads, which means more women, so the news is full of how women in STEM are the most likely to be dumped.

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Here in NZ...

a male friend of mine was a nurse. He ended up being assigned to a mental hospital.

Whenever they had a violent person that the females didn't want to deal with he had to do the job.

He ended up leaving after he was beaten and hospitalised. The only reason that happened was because he didn't fight back. If he had the patient would have had the broken bones.

So even in this lovely egalitarian world, we still have the "Aaaaagh Spider!" problem. We're equal tough girls until we feel we need a man to do something nasty.

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Re: I wonder

Its only sexist if men are the majority in the role. If its women its perfectly fine.

Its similar to racism(in the US) a white guy does anything at all to a person of African decent they are a racist, if a person of African decent beats the living crap out of a white guy while screaming racial obscenities its not racism.

As for healthcare I work in a Nursing home, and over the years we've went through more then 40 nurses I can only recall 3 nurses being male(2 were gay). Now on the CNA(Certified Nursing Assistant) we have probably went through more then 100, and there were 5-6 males.

I wonder if they ever thought that the reason why women avoid STEM careers is because the average person that goes into them is treated like crap, and get crap pay.

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Re: I wonder

Last time I was in the hospital I saw alot of male nurses. I'd say about a third came from the military.

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Re: Here in NZ...

@Charles Manning:

We're equal tough girls until we feel we need a man to do something nasty.

Charles, I am a bigoted ass. I read your name and always assumed you were a man. But now that I've read your comment, written in the feminine-person, I realize my mistake.

Unless you were being your normal, comically proportioned, pompous self, and simply writing in the tone of a woman?

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Re: I wonder

"Its similar to racism (in the US) a white guy does anything at all to a person of African decent they are a racist"

What - so you're saying it's NOT?

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Joke

Re: I wonder

Warning: Do not use any of Ledswinger's phrases as search terms, you may be shocked (or something).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder

@KeithR

No, he's saying:

"Its similar to racism(in the US) a white guy does anything at all to a person of African decent they are a racist, if a person of African decent beats the living crap out of a white guy while screaming racial obscenities its not racism."

It's a claim of double standards.

Oh, and we have the same happening here in the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder

"Its similar to racism (in the US) a white guy does anything at all to a person of African decent they are a racist"

No that's not racist... it's only racist if you do it because of their race.

If you were to punch the lights out of a person of African decent, but have already punched the lights out of an equal number of people of other descents the same day without a care in the world for where they come from... that's many things but it's not racist.

If however I just make a habit of picking on people because they of African decent... that's racist. Just as it would be if I chose because they were British or American and of white skin colour.

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Orwell said it (more or less) ...

All sexes are equal, but some sexes are more equal than others.

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

You get an upvote because Orwell was commenting on advantages in society gained through cultural reinforcement rather than from innate ability, and I feel compelled to point that out because I know that sooner or later someone will come along who reads your line and thinks "Yes, men are better than women."

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Happy

Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

This is mine: We're all equal, but we're all different.

I think the one place where there should be a strict 50-50 share is in elected bodies. For every seat there should be a male and female representative.

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Rol

Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

Sounds ideal, but in practice it is more sexist than Sid the sexist in a stuffed bikini riding a minstrel's cycle in the Tour de Lesbos.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

> I think the one place where there should be a strict 50-50 share is in elected bodies. For every seat there should be a male and female representative.

Leaving aside the fact that the ratio of men to women is not exactly 50:50 - do you think that elected bodies should also represent the populace proportionately in other areas? By age, by ethnicity or language, by religion? By income? By level of education achieved? Perhaps also by height, weight and hair colour?

If you don't, then surely you are condemning some section of society to be *not adequately represented*!

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

What if women want to vote for a man? Will they be forced to vote for a woman?

Or will both men and women have both a male and female representative? What if they would rather have a transgender representative?

Why not just let them vote and let the chips fall as they may?

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

What if women want to vote for a man?

A couple of years ago at UTas a bloke was elected to the position of Women's Officer. Fairly and democratically. There was an outcry from the feminists and the bloke resigned. The position became unfilled, there being no women who wanted the position. It should be noted that men are in the minority on the UTas campus. Equality? Feminists have zero interest in equality.

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

"Feminists have zero interest in equality."

My personal opinion is that sweeping statements, and their re-iteration, are one root cause of inequality.

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

My personal opinion is that sweeping statements, and their re-iteration, are one root cause of inequality.

See CodeforBroke's comment. Feminists and misogynists alike have an interest in maintaining inequality and a history of having done so. Equalists not so much...

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

"For every seat there should be a male and female representative"

Hmmm... That's potentially difficult to square with "everyone on his merits".

(This is "his" in the legal sense, which is construed to include "her" too).

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

"See CodeforBroke's comment. Feminists and misogynists alike have an interest in maintaining inequality and a history of having done so."

So you don't understand what "sweeping statement" means, then?

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

So you don't understand what "sweeping statement" means, then?

I do. But do you understand what a tautology is? Sweeping statement =/= a tautology.

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Re: Orwell said it (more or less) ...

Well according to Madeleine Albright "there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other" when referring to Hillary's run for the White House so letting folks vote for who they want to vote for isn't really cricket.

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According to Madelaine Albright

Madeleine Albright also said 500,000 dead Iraqi Children was "worth it"and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama. If I believed in hell, I would hope there would be a special place for Albright and Obama in there.

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To Be Fair

Based solely on the info in articles, it does seem the boy's idea was more creative and letting him win was at least legitimate. We want girls in STEM but not at the cost of tilting tables in their favor.

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Re: To Be Fair

Dear Sir,

That is exactly what gender-based political correctness is all about: tilting tables in favor of the seemingly under-represented people.

I am all for giving everybody equal opportunities, but that must indeed mean equal to everybody. Not "equal to everybody except those who are in the majority".

Regards,

Guus Leeuw

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Re: To Be Fair

But how would you feel if you won a competition because you were a girl, and not because you had the best idea?

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Re: To Be Fair

seemingly under-represented

You really need to go away and think that through.

How do you provide equality of opportunity if there are wider problems in society which underpin the inequality? It can take generations to change attitudes, whether by a natural process or by targetted encouragement, and even then there will be areas of society where the older mindset will hold sway for decades. Do you stand back and leave all the disadvantaged people to their fate during that time, or do you try to do something to help them?

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Re: To Be Fair

You do something to help them. In a way that doesn't then disadvantage the "old majority" or advantage the disadvantaged. There are many ways to create equality. Creating inequality is not one of them and in the end doesn't help change the mentality. It just twists it.

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Re: To Be Fair

The aim of the competition was to get more girls interested in STEM. If lots of girls entered the competition then that aim is achieved. The gender of the winner is irrelevant.

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Angel

Re: To Be Fair

Isn't "tilting tables" a description of the winning idea?

"Three of the four runners-up prizes did go to young women, including ideas for a waterproof tablet for use in the bath and another for a software system for refrigerators that identifies the sell-by and use-by dates to minimize food waste."

So a male was a runner up? That's 40% of the prizes going to men. Good on yer lads!

Also a waterproof tablet? Hello Sony. A smart fridge? Hello Samsung.

"But how would you feel if you won a competition because you were a girl, and not because you had the best idea?" Probably the same as a football team that wins the game due to an own goal. Still ahead and in the money.

Still, good to see a competitions' organisers sticking to the principal of the best idea winning.

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Re: To Be Fair

Thanks, I came here to post the same opinion. These were proposals, the contestants didn't have to actually make or even design the product. I case the other commenters don't bother going to the EDF site:

Judges: Two women, one man, and last year's winners - a team of eight girls.

Winner, the boy: A game controller where the triggers creates energy by a wind up mechanism

Runners up, all girls: 1) a smart fridge system that monitors expiry dates, 2) curtains which automatically open when they sense the sunlight (the proposal didn't include 'closing them in the summer', not much of an issue in Scotland, eh), 3) a device which you put near your computer screen, which reminds you/monitors your pre-bedtime routines, 4) a bathtub mat so now you can surf while bathing.

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Re: To Be Fair

>Do you stand back and leave all the disadvantaged people to their fate during that time, or do you try to do something to help them?

That something you do to help (them) would necessarily include determining that there's a point after which no more 'leveling' is practicable; defining equality as a strict function of parity (i.e. equality == parity in numbers) is a mistake, as doing so may well institutionally define inequality as perpetual, entrenching frustration. Not a wise thing to do.

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Re: To Be Fair

The idea was to encourage girls not to patronise them.

The runners up prizes actually meant something.

Nearly the best on a level playing field.

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Anonymous Coward

Not enough discussion of work environment

During my career my STEM type of profession changed from being male_only and heavily technical to being dominated by women with a considerably softer profile. Recently I quietly mentioned to my (female) boss the discomfort of being the only man in such a changing environment. She subsequently hired a female of the sort that we already have - even though there were male applicants with a lot better STEM qualifications.

I am old enough, so I can escape by early retirement.

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Re: To Be Fair

"Based solely on the info in articles, it does seem the boy's idea was more creative"

More likely his idea would reap more money when it was sold to the console makers.

I think we can all agree that just because something is a money maker, it doesn't make it creative.

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Re: To Be Fair

I think we can all agree that just because something is a money maker, it doesn't make it creative.

And I think we can all agree that just because something is not a money maker, it doesn't make it creative. Whoda thunkit? ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To Be Fair

"it was opened up to both sexes in the name of gender equality."

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Anonymous Coward

Equality meets affirmative action

Two go in, only one leaves.

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Anonymous Coward

stem encoragement

I'll go out on a limb here and say that while the newspapers and websites report spurious health products (let alone miracle cures) we don't have enough young persons of either gender going into STEM

Though Stem take up is still low for females, it least we have moved to it being a personal choice rather than the dark days when my colleague was advised against studying science by a teacher and it took her mother's insistence for it to happen. That my colleague has a doctorate in biochemistry serves as the coda to that anecdote.

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Positive discrimination is just as offensive to me as negative discrimination.

The best competition entry deserves to win, irrespective of gender.

I presume that the judges had the gender of the participant withheld whilst judging to enable them to make a non-discriminatory choice.

Perhaps Dr. Black would prefer a 'fixed' competition where it was predetermined that a girl would win. I wouldn't. I prefer a fair competition.

Chris.

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I think you're missing the point. The competition was supposed to encourage girls, and was originally intended only to be open to girls. For some reason they decided to open it up to boys too, when they could have run a parallel competition just for boys. That option would have achieved their primary aim and given an opportunity for boys to get involved.

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TRT
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Smacks of the old prize categories thing "Girl winner (Age 5-7) is... Boy winner (Age 5-7) is..." etc etc until everyone's a winner. By separating the prize categories out by gender, it kind of reinforces the idea that women and men can't compete on a level playing field and have to play in their own arena. IMHO that's sending completely the opposite message. I work in a university science department and we have a fairly even split between male and female at all levels. The only problem is that the women seem to keep falling pregnant and having to take long breaks from their research - working with teratogens it's kind of essential that they do that. :(

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Anonymous Coward

"Perhaps Dr. Black would prefer a 'fixed' competition where it was predetermined that a girl would win. I wouldn't. I prefer a fair competition."

That's exactly what she wants. There's no discrimination between the sexes in STEM teaching nowadays - it's simply a myth. Girls, on average, are simply are less interested in pursuing STEM careers than boys. They perform just as well as boys up to GCSE level then the numbers choosing to continue their eduction drop off a cliff.

Another piece of nonsense in the news recently is the supposed gender pay gap. This is also demonstrably false since, if it were true that a woman could be paid less than man for the same job, there would be no men left in the workforce! Businesses are not stupid.

No, what this is all about is pushing the perverse, politically correct diversity agenda. Advocates of feminism simply believe that females are superior to males hence why their supposed quest purporting to achieve equality, which in reality was attained decades ago, is expanding not diminishing.

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"I think you're missing the point. The competition was supposed to encourage girls, and was originally intended only to be open to girls. For some reason they decided to open it up to boys too, when they could have run a parallel competition just for boys. That option would have achieved their primary aim and given an opportunity for boys to get involved."

Was it? That information wasn't in the article, and would have helped. I read it as, there was a competition, and a separate but linked campaign to get girls interested. But that didn't mean you had to fix the competition in the end if the girls were rubbish.

Rather like job vacancies. You can particularly encourage applications from women, but you don't pick a woman as the new employee just because she has tits.

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OR, as they said in the article, someone figured gender EQUALITY was important and that refusing boys entries was about as sexist as a male only competition.

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