Can Success Stories Affect Anything–STEM?

Can Success Stories Affect Anything– STEM?

My Response to:

No hidden figures: success stories can help girls’ STEM careers

Published on February 10, 2017

By Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of United Nations Women

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka stated, “What makes a young girl believe she is less intelligent and capable than a boy? And what happens when those children face the ‘hard’ subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? A recent study, ‘Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests’ showed that by the age of 6, girls were already less likely than boys to describe their own gender as ‘brilliant’, and less likely to join an activity labelled for ‘very, very smart’ kids.”

When did joining an activity labeled for very, very, smart kids ever come up? Also, when did 6 year olds have that much of impression of all girls or all boys, unless it is a personal opinion of themselves? I never cared about or thought about other kids at the age of 6, nor about whether girls were smarter than boys or dumber than boys. So, why is this even coming up? They are in first grade, for God’s sake. But again, at 6 years old they have not had been much influenced by society. They have not been alive long enough.

If fact I’ve got to wonder about these kids that were asked these questions if that did not adversely affect them. Today’s kids ought to feel that they are smart, even though many are not. They worry more about their psyche and not enough about imparting knowledge.

I question any research done via surveying (questionnaires) people. What was asked, when it was asked, how it was asked, and possible answers all have to change (or affect) their responses. It is called the, Observer’s Effect, where just the presence of the observer changes behaviors of that which is observed, thereby, rendering any observation wrong/bogus.

You say that only 28% of researchers are women and this includes researchers in natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences, agriculture sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Only 28% as I will show may be a little high, but then again, it does mention the humanities as well as STEM (or STEAM) subjects/areas. It should probably be closer to 25%.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka wrote, “Research tells us repeatedly that girls and boys are strongly influenced in the development of their thinking and sense of themselves by narratives and stereotypes that start to be learnt at home and continue at school and through life, reinforced by the images and the roles they see in advertising, in films, books and news stories.”

What or whose research are you talking about?

They could not be born a certain way?

In an effort to answer my own question I pose the following. In my very recent research I have found that there are basically two schools of thought here. Biological – Psychologists say we are born a certain way. Heredity plays a big role in who we are.

Behavioral- Psychologists say society makes us what we are. They say that we are all blank slates to be molded into something. They say it must be this way or else how do you explain what behaviors are acceptable within society. Of course not all of society behaves the same. Some do what others consider unacceptable, even though they think it is perfectly okay!

Both of these schools of thought tend to conclude that they are right. My opinion is some research might tend to say that society creates us and some might tend to say that we are born that way.

So, the science is not settled on this issue.

I personally believe that it is heredity, mostly. Yes, society or life can affect us. But basically our preferences and tendencies are in us at birth and very early in life, or long before we start school. Not all 5 year olds are the same.

Some behave and some do not for example. While we all do react to our environment, the way we look at our environment is inside of us very early in life. Our basic preferences are in us early on. Even as infants some cry often and others rarely cry. These are personality traits just after birth.
Acceptable behavior in society is a built-in function as it is in all animals. A bee knows at birth how to behave as a bee. Dogs know how to be a dog?
And they are different, too. They act differently according to how they are treated. But what makes a dog a dog is inherited.

Myers-Briggs personality types are innate personality types. Progressives seem to think that a kid is a blank slate and would be happy doing anything that they are programmed to like while growing up. Myers-Briggs personality types help us to choose a field based on our inherent preference and therefore would make us happiest. They help us chose what job to do because we are suited for it, but not because someone else is pushing some agenda of their own.

More than half of the adults in the US, anyway, say that they would have gotten into another field if they could have it to do all over again. More than ½ of people are not happy doing what they are doing. It is probably because they were coerced into it. Instead of doing something that they would have been happiest doing, they are doing a job, against their will, I might add.

So, I wish that people would stop advocating kids to do anything. Let them choose their own path.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka posited, “So, how do we change this, and what should girls learn now that sets them up to thrive in a transformed labour market of the future? The answer is not simply more and better STEM subject teaching. They must also learn that girls have an equal place in that future. This isn’t a given. A major and underestimated obstacle for girls in STEM is the stereotype that has been created and perpetuated that boys are better at these subjects and careers.”

So, obviously, given that you really cannot change and should not change things, no change is necessary.

Moreover, I must say that there is no STEM shortage of people. There is a STEM shortage of jobs.

In fact we will lose an average of just over 1, 000, 000 jobs each year from 2015-2020, in 14 industrialized nations. While STEM jobs will grow but the loss of office jobs will more than offset that. And it is not likely that the ones losing their office jobs will not be the ones gaining the new STEM jobs.

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 do people keep pushing this outdated notion?
In fact, the only STEM shortage we’ve ever had was back in the 1960-1980s and that was Computer Science. Most STEM jobs will be Computer Science related. Yet, fully 1/3 of all Computer Science graduates will never get a software job.

So, not only should we not try to change kids, including girls, there is no need to do so.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka submitted, “Not only do we have to ensure that children enter and stay in education, we must equally pay close attention to what they are learning. The changing future of jobs means that fields of study for children now in school should include equipping them for ‘new collar’ jobs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Jobs that do not exist today may be common within the next 20 years, in the green economy, or areas like robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and genomics.”

You know that the statement of jobs change in the next 20 years can be said of every 20 year period since 1900 or before. Every generation has seen jobs come and go.

Again progressives want education to have some kind of utility. It must help out one’s job. This flies in the face of traditional reasons for education, that being, to impart knowledge so that we can govern ourselves.

So, this is wrong! Like coercion, forced utility, is treating the kids as a means to an end, your end. They are not treated as an end in themselves. This is unethical! What they do with their lives should be a calling, should be up to them!

Also, it would not be possible to watch or control what a kid learns. There are so many sources outside of school, even at school in libraries, etc.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka declared, “The media plays a powerful role in biases, with the power through effective storytelling to reinforce negative perceptions and norms or to set the record straight and create new role models. ‘Hidden Figures’, Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, that tells the ‘untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race’ is now released as a film and brings recognition to those who were doubly invisible at NASA—as women and as black women. Making accomplished women scientists visible is important for the accuracy of news and of history. It is also an essential part of building further scientific success.”

She thinks that maybe 1,000 women (or about 50 black women) worked at NASA but that is out of about 36,000. They or one were/was human calculators checking the validity of the computer’s numbers and it was only 0.14% of the NASA personnel. And you wonder why it is not mentioned in history books. This is drop in the bucket.

I am not sure that a mathematician would want to just crunch numbers. The media may play a role but when I was young I did not care about the media. Even if true you cannot control the media.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka stated, “Census data in the United States of America shows that women comprise 39 per cent of chemists and material scientists, and 28 per cent of environmental scientists and geoscientists. These are not the equal proportions that we ultimately want—but they are far higher levels of success in science than fiction tells us. Alarmingly, best-selling movies have tended to significantly underrepresent the facts. A 2015 global study supported by UN Women showed that, of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12 per cent were women. This tells us that women are still hidden figures in science—and it has a chilling effect on girls’ ambitions.”

These movies are not for little children. They should not affect them then. So, the movies do not represent reality. This is news? It is all imaginary. It is hard to have 1/3 of all scientists in a movie be women when you may have only one woman lead that is a scientist, like in the movie, Angels And Demons. I did not count up how many women where employed at the particle accelerator.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka continued, “According to a 2016 Girl-guiding survey, fewer than one in ten girls aged 7 to 10 in the UK said they would choose a career as an engineer or scientist. Un-learning this bias and changing the stereotypes is not a simple matter, yet it’s essential if we are to see boys and girls able to compete on a more equal footing for the jobs of the future. This goes hand in hand with the practical programmes that teach immediately relevant skills.”

It is not bias. It is born with. Fewer than 1 in 10 people should be getting into STEM, according to Myers-Briggs. This includes men too. These are elementary school aged kids. What do they know? I knew not what I wanted to do in Elementary School. Why are these kids even being asked such questions? Many young adults change their major college. Clearly they did not know what they wanted either.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka put forth, “UN Women is working with partners around the world to close the gender digital gap. For example, in Moldova, GirlsGoIT teaches girls digital, IT and entrepreneurial skills and specifically promotes positive role models through video; similarly in Kenya and South Africa, 20 Mozilla Clubs for women and girls teach basic coding and digital literacy skills in safe spaces.”

I have nothing against girls in STEM but I am against those that push one agenda or another. By the way, IT is defined as the hardware and network operating system associated with computers. Any coding is actually IS (Information Systems), which includes most the field that you call IT.

Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka concluded, “We need to deliberately and urgently un-stereotype the ecosystems in which children play, learn and grow up. Across the world, in schools, at home, in the work place and through the stories we tell—we all need to reflect and enable a world where girls can thrive in science, so that their success becomes as probable as they are capable.”

You are talking about a small percentage of a very small percentage of the human population. The population of women is less than that of men, worldwide. But let us say that they are 50% of the population. But those suited for STEM are a small minority of the population.

The percentage of women in STEM is about 25% when compared to men at 75%. Or the ratio of men to women in STEM is 3:1.

The iNtuitive Thinker or NTs are comprised of the following 4 types of Myers-Briggs Personality Types (Only about 3 of which are suited for STEM).

INTJ men are 3.3% of the population (sounds a bit high); women are 0.9%.
ENTJ men are 2.7%; women are 0.9%. This is one not necessarily suited for STEM.
ENTP men are 4%; women are 2.4%.
INTP 4.8%; women are 1.7%.
These 4 types make up the NTs (iNtuitive Thinkers).

Only three of these are truly suited for STEM, 100%. The one that is not is ENTJ. About ½ of ENTPs are not suited for STEM.
INTJs and INTPs are prevalent in STEM.
So, if we add up the three we get 4.2 + 6.5 + 1.8 = 12.5%. While a high percentage of these types have a high IQs not all do. So let us round it off and say 10% are suited for STEM. Or about 2.5% of all women are suited for STEM.

Now 3.3 + 4 + 2.7 = 10%; 0.9 + 2.4 + 1.7 = 5% — This would indicate a 2:1 men to women ratio, if these were equally balanced. Actually INTJs are big in STEM (even though they are very uncommon in the population) and that ratio is 3.3:0.9; or 3.67:1. INTPs are about equal in STEM and the same ratio.
This is why there are 3 times more men than women in STEM, because it is skewed more toward INTJs & INTPs 4.8:1.7% or 2.8:1.

Along these lines INTJs (are NTs in general) are very socially awkward. They do not care so much about personal feelings. They are more into ideas. So, it would be hard to show feelings towards men and even more so towards women.

I guess that they’ve been rejected by women most of their lives that they just find it hard to relate to women, so the women may not feel accepted but it goes the same for men too.

A true INTJ would not be looking for acceptance anyway. They want very few friends but deeper relations than just a shallow friendship. They tend to focus on their jobs and not with trying to make friends.

So, if one is looking for acceptance then one should not get into STEM.
Since most people do want acceptance then most should not get into STEM!!!

So, I have tried to show:
1) That a 3:1 ratio of men to women is to be expected based on Myers-Briggs personality types.
2) That we should not try to change people or try to tell them what to do for a living. It is unethical to treat people as a means to your ends.
3) That there is no need for more STEM people. We have too many as it is.
4) That those suited for STEM generally are not looking to fit in nor for acceptance. They are more interested in ideas.
5) That we cannot control the media nor what kids learn.
6) That these personality traits are inborn. At least the science is not settled on it,
7) That those suited for STEM are very independent types, especially INTJs.
8) That people should stop pushing STEM on anyone!!!


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