Letter – Yes, young women and girls must be encouraged to enter science field

To the Editor:
Re: Does government have to promote science field to young women? (Mac Olsen’s editorial from February 22).

To answer your your question in the heading of your article: an emphatic YES!

The fact that you ask the question at all identifies the exact issue that the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is attempting to redress, which I will address first.

The former CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, once stated in an interview with Katie Couric, women in STEM are leaving because it’s “death by a thousand cuts.” While women are entering STEM programs in record numbers, they are leaving just as quickly because of the misogynistic and sexist comments made by their male peers, who still outnumber them. Until society at large learns that this is not okay, we must continue to encourage girls and women in these fields, to hold them up and brace them when they get one too many cuts.

First, let’s start with the definition of discrimination: “it is the unjust or prejudicial treatment in different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age or sex.” This hasn’t happened. All that has occurred is simply the encouragement of girls to choose STEM program, and I’ll get to why that is important in a minute.

This is no different to a parent standing on the sidelinies of a soccer match cheering their kid on. They aren’t discriminating against the other kids on the team or their opponents, putting them down or abasing them, they are simply offering encouragement to someone they want to support. If that’s discriminatory, we are headed in a very scary direction, and talk about what your cheerleading for the orange-glow tweet-holic.

As a man, I understand what male privilege is and it has afforded me, but I’m also very conscious of how unfair it is to other who weren’t simply born with my gender (or race, but that’s a matter for a different time). I will always champion for women and minorities to receive fair treatment and respect. This championing doesn’t mean that I believe men should be treated lesser than women, but perhaps not on the pedestal that, as a gender, we seem to feel belong upon.

Your comments simply speak of your desperation to keep your boys’ club, and your pedestal, intact. The dismantling of which you decry as discrimination and unfair. It’s not. You’re just beginning to join the same level playing field the rest of society has had to endure for far too long.

Now why is is so important? Simple. Studies have shown that when girls are encouraged at a young age that STEM programs are a choice, from their parents, teachers, counsellors and through public programs, those girls begin to believe they can achieve great things and that they can succeed, they are more likely to choose those fields.

It’s not availability of resources, but encouragement that proves to be most effective. The choice is theirs. These girls are applying themselves and succeeding.

This is why two seconds on Google would have answered your question, which means that its necessity isn’t what your are truly upset about.

Women are not being accepted into university because of some gender affirmative action bit. They are being accepted because they have the drive and the marks to succeed. Women generally outpace men in standardized STEM programs.

There is not “you only got here because of your gender.” That’s boys’ club speak.

The government showed its commitment to gender equality when it chose qualified women to head up cabinet positions.

Here’s the rub, these weren’t lobbyists who were suddenly appointed to run the country’s education program and then not knowing where to find a pencil on their first day. These were fully qualified women who had relevant professional experience in fields that are directly related to their positions.

Why? To quote our Prime Minister who made it happen: “Because it’s 2015.”

Two years later, you’re still questioning why, claiming there’s no need, and throwing up flares as you watch your boys’ pedestal crumble, while hiding behind some “discrimination” outrage.

Well, too bad. All I’m going to do is keep chipping away at it, encourage those who will benefit from a level playing field to do the same and speak out when someone tries to hide their panic behind a cry of selfishness and dismissal. Someone hand me a chisel. A male feminist in the great conservative north.
Steve L. Moore,
Guy, Alberta

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