So this was shared with me today via Facebook:
H/T: Alicia Maria K.
Surely the rest of the Girl Scouts science classes must be on the next page of the pamphlet, right?
But nope! Nope, what is shown is all that’s listed. Boy Scouts get to choose from Chemistry, Engineering, Astronomy, Weather and Robotics. Girl Scouts get Science with a Sparkle, which turns out to be a class on the chemistry of cosmetics. From the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, the organization advertising the classes:
Transcription: Prepare to be dazzled! Dive into chemistry and learn how science relates to health and beauty products. Become a cosmetic chemist and concoct your own creations to take home.
As of this write up, the Facebook photo has been shared 1384 times and the Carnegie Science Center has received…some feedback. Tishka Miller, the OP, wrote that she had received a response from Carnegie:
Well they responded, with a full page picture including their non- Girl Scout offerings that are “just for girls”. They claim the Girl Scouts just don’t sign up for non-sparkly science programs.
Uh-huh. Girls just don’t want to science. Never heard that one before.
As Wonkette points out, Carnegie did an alright job of responding to the onslaught of complaints on their Facebook page. And very importantly, they recognized that this was an important issue and they responded quickly. Carnegie highlights the general museum programs that they run which are specifically designed to encourage girls’ interest in science (which sound pretty cool). However, they still place the blame on the Girl Scouts offering on the fact that when they have run Engineering, Chemistry and Robotics for Girl Scouts badge programs there has been no interest. They do offer up this:
“…we are always happy to book private workshops for Girl Scout troops and cater to a science topic they are interested in. We are also always trying to get feedback regarding our programming to see what programs Girl Scouts would like to see us offer. Interested Girl Scout troops can learn more here: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/girl-scouts/”
I get it…it’s a tough spot to be in for the museum – how do you accomplish the complex task of balancing patron interest and programming availability? But that’s kind of their job. If the classes that are in line with your institution’s values and efforts aren’t selling, let’s examine why and then find a better solution than repackaging science to meet society’s messed up gender norms and expectations. There have to be hooks other than makeup that will raise the interest of Pittsburgh’s Girl Scouts troop leaders (because that’s likely who is choosing to bring the troops into these programs).
As several commenters mentioned in the original thread, there’s nothing inherently wrong with offering a class called Science with a Sparkle. Heck, I’d sit in on a science of cosmetics class! But when a class offering is so obviously gendered (and hey – some Boy Scouts probably want in on that), and when it is the only offering for girls, it’s going to rub people the wrong way. Maybe simply offer “Scouts” badges?
We’ve had a lot of awareness raising around the fact that we as a society have traditionally done a very poor job of encouraging STEM enthusiasm among girls and women, and more often than not, have discouraged it. An organization devoted to science promotion and communication needs to do better in the future.