Mission to Build a STEM Community?

Mission to Build a STEM Community?

My Response to:

One Woman’s Mission To Build A Community In STEM

Published on November 14, 2016

By Charise Roberts


UNC Chapel Hill Campus Editor at LinkedIn

Charise Roberts reminisces, “Several weeks ago, I wrote about my experience as a young woman pursuing a career in advertising who also has an interest in STEM (and its status as a male dominated field). Personally, I was never told not to explore science or math as a career, but the media I consumed from youth onward tended to portray men in those roles. My parents gave me female-oriented magazines to read that focused on careers in fashion, social issues, art, and health, but very little on careers in science. On my campus, I’ve heard tons of stories from female peers who felt they were not encouraged to pursue STEM fields like their male counterparts or face a less welcoming environment in the classroom and the workplace. Other students I’ve talked to have had great professors and mentors, made friends in their classes, and have access to awesome resources, but still wish for a larger community of women exploring these subjects.”

Why is it you think that you need encouragement? STEM, like college in general, should be a calling. You should not be coerced into it by anyone. You should have a willingness to pursue it no matter what your major is. It is not a continuation of high school.

Your college campus should not be promoting anything, for male or female.

Regardless, there have been female scientists. Dr. Jane Goodall and her chimpanzee study that lasted decades is a current example.

Madame Curie a double Nobel Prize for Science winner, one in Physics and the other one in Chemistry. She is the only woman to wind two Nobel Prizes in different fields.

She used to be explored in Junior High science classes. Is she not taught now?  If not so, then why not? She studied radiation and that may be what killed her. Her life might just inspire girls today.

US Naval Commodore Grace Hopper was a mathematician and computer scientist about the same time that Jane Goodall was big. Both were active in my lifetime, whereas, Madame Curie died before I was born, about 22 years before.

So, there have been women in STEM. These three should be studied at least some in Middle School science classes or in a History of Science class, if offered.

Charise Roberts wrote, “At the end of the article, I articulated my desire to connect with women who were not only making great strides in the STEM field, but also had the desire to reach out and lead young women to realize their potential in a field they might otherwise overlook. When I met Dr. Anna Powers as a result, I knew I had to share her story.”

With of the push on STEM from K-12 and yet you want more in college too? Society and schools have been pushing that onto kids for decades now, wrongly. College is a little too late to push it even more.

By the way there is no STEM shortage. There are at least six organizations that say there is no STEM shortage. They are: The Center for Immigration Studies, The IEEE Organization, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the Rand Corporation, the Urban Institute, and the National Research Council. In fact, the Rand Corporation went as far back as 1990 and concluded that there was no STEM shortage that far back.

So, why does anyone push STEM at all?

Charise Roberts wrote, “When Dr. Anna Powers, an NYU researcher, lecturer, scholar and entrepreneur, noticed that some female students had never been encouraged to explore STEM by a mentor or role model she quickly identified a correlation between lack of encouragement or guidance and performance in the subjects.”

Lack of encouragement, really? They had science classes K-12. If they liked it they did well. Rather if they did well they probably liked it and that encouraged them to want to pursue STEM. A course that one struggled with is likely to be hated and discouraging.

Charise Roberts posited, ““There are very few women in these fields to begin with, so there is no community,” Powers says. “Not having the proper support can turn women away from the field and, thus, many young women feel that science is not for them.””

There should be no need for a community. As I said the ones that are suited for it are few and far between. They are very independent, usually.

Charise Roberts stated, “While Powers herself was always interested in STEM subjects, she noticed during her many years of teaching that while some young women were perfectly capable of excelling in these subjects, the society around them did not motivate or encourage them to explore. Then, their potential was left untapped.”

Again, by encouragement you mean pushed into it.

According to her LinkedIn page she taught for 5 years as an Adjunct Professor. This is hardly many years!  Adjunct professorships are typically part-time and on a contract basis. So, she taught for 5 years part-time, without even a graduate degree.

She was teaching at NYU, while she was a student there, without a PhD and with only a bachelor’s degree. How is this possible? She got her PhD in 2015 and that is the year she stopped teaching at NYU. You usually need a Master’s degree or preferably a PhD in order to teach college. She had neither while teaching at NYU. She never got a Master’s degree. With a PhD one is not needed.


Charise Roberts wrote, “As a direct result, Powers established her organization, Powers Education. Through this company, she pairs young women with tutors and role models to help them explore subjects like technology and math as well as unlock the potential they had not yet realized.”

”One student, for example, came to Powers with a “D” in a science course. The student had struggled to understand the subject and had almost resigned herself to failure as she felt she was more naturally gifted with language arts, a college major typically dominated by women. Powers took her into office hours sessions and explained that science, too, is a language and that her brain was perfectly capable of learning it. By the end of the semester, the student passed the course with an “A” and saw science in an entirely different light. For her, and many students, she simply needed a mentor to show her that her difficulty with science is not insurmountable, she only needed to find inspiration in the pursuit of new knowledge – and that inspiration can open tons of doors.”

I will not argue that she could learn it. Although, language is a right hemisphere of the brain dominant while STEM is left hemisphere dominant. Most people are one or the other. Very few can access both hemispheres with equal or near equal ease. These are the true scholars, high IQ’d.

Please just call it Language (English or Foreign Language such as French) and not Language Arts, and not especially, English Language Arts. At least you did not say this. This is doubly redundant. English is a language so stating it in the name is redundant. Since it is not a Science then it must be an Art, so it is redundant again, or doubly redundant. It is redundant to say what was said.

So, retaking it she went from a D to an A? This will sometimes happen s when one retakes a course. Again, I hope that she does not need to take every STEM course twice in order to pass.

Powers Education has only been in existence for 8 months. There is not much of a track record here.

Passing one course does not mean that she is a scientist. I hope that she will not need extensive  tutoring in her future STEM related classes. I assume that this was a Freshman science course. Arguably this would be one of the easies classes.

One should not judge a program by one person in one class and call that a rousing success.

Charise Roberts offered, ““I could have gone into another field, had I not met a role model who encouraged me to get a PhD,” Powers says. “I have always been really good at science, but in order to pursue it, one needs to feel inspired.””

See there she had the calling. She was good at science. You should have had the thirst for knowledge and not prodded into it, though. One should always go as far as their, IQ, abilities, time and money will allow.  A true scientist will not worry about what others think in the first place. They would not ask advice.

Charise Roberts continued, “When Powers went to college, she took a course that combined math and physics, where her professor noticed her aptitude and encouraged her to pursue a career in STEM. For the first time in her life, she realized that science was a beautiful, ever-changing thing that she could spend the rest of her existence discovering. Being a goal oriented person, Powers decided that she would not only dedicate her life to science, but changing the world. For her, that meant doing exactly what her professor had done for her. She wanted to bring more women on board to experience everything that STEM has to offer.”

This is wee bit contradictory here. Here she says that a college professor encouraged her to pursue a career in STEM. Yet, above she said that she was always good at science. A course that combines math and science is also a bit redundant. Science is applied mathematics, to one extent or another. Again, this ability was apparent in Secondary School then why did she not pursue STEM in college? What was her original major? This contradiction is somewhat problematic for me.

Charise Roberts stated, “Currently, Powers Education is focused not only on teaching but also on building a community of women in STEM by inspiring women to participate. The video campaign, emPower, captures the stories of young women in STEM, their struggles and how the community in Powers Education helps them find inspiration and belonging.”

Apparently again according to her LinkedIn page she no longer teaches, at least not at NYU. One assumes that she teaches at Powers Education! What does she teach?

Charise Roberts wrote, “In the future, Powers wants Powers Education to be global. She still has work to do in the US and tons of girls can benefit from building a relationship with one of her tutors and receiving a deeper education, but some countries have even wider gaps to fill. In fact, in some countries, girls are discouraged from going to school in general, let alone exploring STEM.”

Yes in some countries women are not allowed to go to school but not here. There are more women in college in the US, currently, than there are men. Maybe even to the point of unfairness and unethicalness. That is, there may be more women in college as a percentage than are in the population overall. According to the quota system of fairness this would be unfair if the two percentages did not equal each other.

Tons of girls can benefit from building a relationship with one of her tutors? Can I imply that you are saying that lots of girls can get STEM degrees when they have tutors? One could say that about everyone. Most learn without tutors. I never had one. I do have to wonder about tutors and the students that ‘need’ them. Should they even be in college?

Charise Roberts advocated, ““I want Powers Education to be the go-to resource and support for all educational and career related materials for women in STEM,” Powers says. “I believe it is essential to the world because women are essential to the world.””

They are no more nor less essential than men. This whole approach is sexist. This is a quota system. Quotas are not ethical. Thing like this ought to be based solely on merit, on scholarship and not any pysical trait whatsoever.

After only 8 months the author of this piece and Dr. Powers, want Powers Education to go global. Why? There is no track record of success.

This pushing women (or anyone into any field) into STEM is unethical. Again, college in and of itself should be a calling and no carrot should be dangled in front of their faces to get them to move in one direction or another. This is treating as a means to an end (your end) and not with respect and dignity.

While more people can handle STEM, only less than about 10% of world’s population would be happy in STEM. The Myers-Briggs Personality classification of NT (iNtuitive Thinkers) would be happy in STEM jobs. One of the more specific classes is INTJs and they are rare and men outnumber women 3 to 1, in this personality type. Only about 0.8% of the world’s female population is INTJ. This is one the rarest personality types, generally and for women in particular and yet one of the most common in STEM disciplines. INTJs are rare and usually very intelligent. INTJs, for example, are the most independent types that exist. They would not need to be inspired and would hate to be prodded.

Trying to put a person into STEM just because they are a woman is wrong.

People like this try to push STEM onto women (men) because their sense of fairness based on percentages. That is, as an example, since women make up just over 50% of the US population then women need to make up just over 50% of every occupation or every endeavor, including STEM.

A counter example is women are in college more than men but it may just be more than their percentage of the US population which would be fair under the quota system of fairness. Actually men outnumber women in the world. We will never have the exact same makeup of population dispersion in every endeavor as it is in the US population at large. An unachievable goal is unethical. One of the tenants of good ethical theory is ‘Practicability’. That is, the ability to put it into practice or practicality.

Ultimately, more women in STEM may or may not be a valid ethical goal but how one achieves this important. The ends do not ever justify the means. Again, what one does with their lives should be up to them and nobody else. Happiness is more than a job!


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