New Formulas for America's Workforce: Girls in Science and Engineering (4MB PDF)

At first some girls were intimidated by the power drills, but soon they were vying for access to them…. After building their own siege engine a medieval invention to catapult objects they launched the head of a Barbie doll, to mimic the practice of launching diseased corpses over castle walls, to introduce disease among the besieged. Nestling Barbie‘shead in a sling, they tugged a rope, released a lever, and launched the doll‘shead in an arc across the college lawn.


African American students did not study together; they worked hard, but they strictly separated their social and intellectual lives. Chinese students formed study groups and had study mates. Their ability to form communities and to collaborate was a key to their success.


Many gifted girls do not achieve their own goals because their resourcefulness and eagerness to please causes them to compromise their goals many times in the course of their development. They sabotage themselves by taking less challenging coursework than they need, by stopping out of education or career plans, or by losing sight of their goals entirely?and often never aspire to goals commensurate with their abilities. Their strong priorities for maintaining relationships rather than achieving their own goals makes it inevitable that gifted women achieve less than gifted men….


On the reservation, an accountant is a friendly, caring person who often makes ?house calls? and who helps the family fill out difficult tax forms resulting in much-needed refunds. A social worker, on the other hand, is someone who takes your children away.

Selections from the book by Pat McNees

New Formulas for America’s Workforce: Girls in Science and Engineering (4MB PDF) (National Science Foundation)

A PDF file. It took me ten times as long as usual to blog this entry, mostly because I was trying to figure out how to tell Google to offer me an HTML version of the whole file, rather than just the intro. (It’s always a bad sign when a webmaster splits up a PDF into multiple small files; someone is clueful enough to recognize when the file is too large, but they don’t think enough of usability issues to make the text available in another format.) No luck.

When I tried to download the PDF version of the intro, that window froze up for about 5 miutes. I have about six other windows open right now, so I didn’t notice when Adobe popped up a window asking me whether I wanted to check for an update to their PDF viewer. When I kept trying to click on the tab to go back to the window where I thought the file was going to appear, I got nothing. So it was back to Google, where I found the author’s home page, where I found the above selections.

So, I won’t be trying to blog another PDF document from home anytime soon. Fie on PDF!

Rosemary suggested the Washington Post article “Why Janie Can’t Engineer: Raising Girls to Succeed,” which is a more accessible version of the same content, but which will soon vanish behind WashPost’s pay-only firewall. But the article: “A college course on how to take apart a computer and put it back together attracted 300 male students and no young women — until the announcement describing the course changed, to say that the computers they worked on would later be given to needy schools. Then the women signed up.” Very interesting.