Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Why don't girls do Science?

I have been glued to nuclear physics today - every time I got in the car I was straight back on Radio 4 to hear the latest from the control room in CERN. Even "woman's hour" got involved debating how we could entice girls to go into science careers. I hope that my daughter's friends don't have my experience.

When I was at school I was a bit of a science geek and was encouraged to enter the National Physics Olympiad. I was awarded a silver medal and sent a worthy tome.

The book plate reads "to Victoria, in recognition of HIS achievement......". This did not exactly deliver the message that the world of high science welcomed female applicants. I put aside pinging protons and dropped physics.

A generation on, the statistics show the record of girls going into science careers in the UK remains poor.

One of the UK female physicists interviewed today described her project as involving 2,500 scientists from 37 different countries. Yet the discussion on careers advice was entirely UK centric. If we want to learn from the CERN project we could start by discovering whether all those countries have similar failings, and if not can we can learn from them.

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