Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cloudy with Meatballs Shines Light on Women in Science

While "Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs" is certainly a movie that has something to say about gluttony and greed, it also has a social commentary about how we treat smart girls in schools.

Messages about the troubles smart women have in science or engineering careers—channeled through perky, TV “weather girl” intern Sam Sparks—are also part of the lesson. “Meatballs” grabbed the alpha spot 2 weekends in a row since opening in September and is still holding a strong second place. A lot of kids—many of them girls—are seeing that film.

Conflicted about her intelligence and beauty, Sam (voiced by Anna Faris) reins in her left-brain for eye-batting cuteness to gain acceptance—until she meets Flint Lockwood, a lovable but misunderstood brainiac inventor, as both contemplate their failures at the end of the local pier.

This, of course, leads to a problem of under-representation of women in the sciences, especially in physics and engineering.

According to government studies, interest in science between boys and girls is similar until about fourth grade. Soon after, though, many girls turn away from science, math and technology subjects like computing and engineering. High-school girls make up only 17 percent of students in AP computer science and 7 percent in AP physics.

It takes a lot for young girls to not only be fascinated by science, but also to withstand the tease and stereotype of being someone who wants to do science. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this is a major factor in discouraging anyone from pursuing anything, given that kind of a social obstacle.


1 comment:

felly said...

I had a minor episode over my abilities in math/sci during high school. I think a lot of girls probably have felt the same.
We were doing geometry in Further Mathematics and I remember how it took me from thirty minutes to an hour to finish one question. Whereas my senior finished doing 8 questions for me under an hour. It was horrible. At the same time, I was learning about the gender roles in my General Paper class. The assigned readings included an Times/Newsweek article on the differences between men and women. It said that in general, men are better at spatial reasoning blah blah..
So I was a little depressed. Fortunately, I didn't give up despite being so sure that I could never be the top. Turns out I was better in Math than most other people.