I want to start by saying that I am extremely thankful to live in an area that has amazing educational institutions, both pre- and post-secondary. I believe that education is valued in our region and that’s one of the main reasons I choose to stay in Fargo to raise my family.
I love the numerous opportunities that there are for kids to attend educational camps throughout the year. I work in math education and fully understand how much time and energy go into setting up these camps. I truly appreciate the effort that numerous groups go through to provide these great resources for our community.
With that being said, I am beyond sad with the sexist approach that the Society of Women Engineers at North Dakota State University has with their family science day camps. They host half-day science camps throughout the year called "Dads and Daughters do Science" and "Mommy, ME & SWE." Both camps are aimed at encouraging young elementary girls to pursue interests in the STEM fields.
During their Dads and Daughters do Science class, the dads are working side-by-side with their daughters helping them explore hands-on science topics. However, during their Mommy, ME & SWE camp, the girls are sent to do hands-on STEM projects with leaders from the university while the moms get a three-hour lecture on how to encourage STEM interests with their daughters.
Seriously? Isn’t the best way to encourage girls to like STEM is by showing a young girl that the important women in their lives enjoy doing STEM projects? I think the subconscious message they are sending is that the dads should be doing STEM projects with their kids, but the moms can’t and need education on how to encourage STEM.
I’m discouraged by the set-up of these camps and urge those in charge of these programs to reconsider letting moms to help with the hands-on STEM projects, too.