A Slice of AnnyWorld:

When it comes to Pluto I’m biased.  I grew up with Pluto being a planet, and dammit,
I refuse to believe otherwise.

Unfortunately, I also grew up biased against pursing a career in #STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  STEM is a boy’s game, I was told.  You shouldn’t bother to play. I assumed girls today were being given a different message.  I was wrong.

In 2012 the National Academy of Sciences published research showing that BOTH female and male faculty rated male applicants as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. In addition, the boys got higher starting salaries and were offered mentoring opportunities not given to the girls.

What bothers me most about these findings is that the women faculty members were just as prejudiced against their own kind as the men.

It’s time we girls throw off the silly notion that we aren’t as good at science as the guys, and encourage our girls to storm labs all over the country.  How can we expect the boys to accept us if we don’t accept and encourage ourselves?

All we have to do is follow our leader–NASA.

Yes, NASA.  According to NASA, women make up 25% of Pluto’s New Horizon’s team–and many of them are in leadership roles. It’s not equal yet, but it’s the highest number of women on a NASA project in history. (In 2013 the total number of U.S. female astronomers and physicists was only 11.8%)

I’m ecstatic that PLANET PLUTO is finally getting its 15 minutes of fame courtesy of lots of us gals!

However, Pluto’s women don’t focus on their numbers. Rather, they yearn for the day when gender equality in the sciences is no big deal. “Girls will be inspired to be scientists and boys will grow up to be ‘gender blind,’ seeing women in science as the norm,” says Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Young.

I want to honor New Horizon’s women by continuing to encourage girls in AnnyWorld to follow their dreams wherever they lead, including Pluto and beyond. (Madu’s thinking about becoming a NASA scientist or astronaut. She’s also open to designing their spacesuits too.)

How do you respond when your daughter, or niece, or female student etc. talks to you about math or science?

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Lava lamp rocketship

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Lava lamp rocketship

Destination of the Fortnight: Pluto

Destination of the Fortnight: Pluto


Posted in EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Thinking Outside The Box by with 4 comments.


  • Judy Jensen says:

    Anny, When I grew up, my brother was my buddy. I played with his toys, rode bikes with him, read his comic books. But I also had a big sister who insisted on girl things. It was because of her that I became a cheerleader(!), that ultimate female high school role model. So I was an in-between, and ended up choosing an in-between path as a school psychologist, interested in both the science and the practice of teaching and learning. Interesting how those early learnings affect us.

    • anny says:

      Thanks for sharing, Judy. Our early influences stay with us in one form or another, so that’s why a lot of my letters focus on ideas/tips that will empower girls to know they can pursue their dreams be it teaching, writing books for kids, or going to Pluto.

  • Lori says:

    I was always good at math and science and scored the highest in these subjects on standardized tests in school and on the ACT. That said, I ended up being a commercial banker. Not because my parents discouraged me from going into these fields. On the contrary, my dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps and be an electrical engineer. Uh, no thanks. I was pretty good at math, but not great at it. When my daughter asked me about math or science, which she did very well in, I always encouraged her. But I encouraged her in anything she showed interest in, because I wanted her to be curious, period. She loves Art History and that’s her passion. While it may sound like she is the opposite of my late father, he was actually an accomplished artist (drawing and painting). He was a true Renaissance man. So congrats NASA and hopefully other industries will follow your lead! And Anny, I also disagree with the demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” and it sounds like thanks to information from New Horizons, the restoration of Pluto to planet status may gain more traction! http://www.businessinsider.com/new-horizons-pluto-photos-definition-of-a-planet-debate-2015-7

    • anny says:

      Lori, if only all parents were like you, ‘sigh.’ I’ve always said, “Expose your kids to as much as you can, then ask them what excites them. What is their passion? Once they tell you, do what you can to help them achieve it.
      As for Pluto, I can only hope that after seeing the latest info from NASA, the Astronomers will restore Pluto to it’s rightful status. 🙂

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