I went to a panel discussion at George Washington University put on by the American Association of University Women. AAUW just published a report on research they had done about how stereotypes affect girls’ and women’s performance in engineering and math. Girls do worse on math tests if you tell them beforehand that girls aren’t good at math.
April of Girls Inc., has a problem with moms who tell their kids “I’ve never been good at math. Go ask your dad.”
One point that was brought up several times was that women who are seen as competent are seen as unlikable. Therefore girls and women are given the message that they have to dumb themselves down in order for people to want to interact with them. Personally, if someone only wants to hang around with me if I’m dumb, then that’s not a someone I want to waste my time on.
Another point that was made – and this gets harped on all the time without asking the right question – is that women need flexible work places so they can sit home and take care of babies. Why doesn’t anyone ever ask why the men refuse to sit home and take care of babies?
I mentioned this to one woman. Her response was that men aren’t any good at it. Well, how the hell are we supposed to get rid of the women-aren’t-competent-in-their-jobs stereotype when we’re refusing to get rid of the men-can’t-take-care-of-babies stereotype?