Girls and Math: A Day in the Life Sunday

"'Math is hard,' a talking Barbie infamously whined.

And math is tough for many people, but a new study from the Girl Scout Research Institute finds encouraging news about girls' interest in (and confidence about) science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Actually, the widely-repeated Barbie quote above is incorrect; she really said "Math class is tough." And like the Barbie quote, the perception that girls don't feel smart enough to do math (or aren't interested in it) isn't quite true either: The study finds that 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM subjects."

Until this morning, I had not read these words in the Discovery News article, Girls Confident in Science and Math. I wasn't aware of the article and the findings until I Googled "girls math 2012 news."

Why in the world did I Google this? It's all about the kid.

The kid was in her first Math Masters competition last weekend. 24 teams of 4 students from 12 schools participated in individual and team events. Typically, one team from our middle school makes the top 3 - which one would it be?

Individual events, team events, kids huddled over papers and calculator keys clicking away every student in the gym that morning gave it their all.

In the minority, our girls made a strong showing. I wasn't at the event but when I heard that one of her teammates won the Fact Quiz I was psyched, go girls! When the kid and her team placed 3rd place out of 24 teams I said, "That's my girl!"

I was thinking "go girls" but the very cool thing about kids at this age, is that they were not. They were thinking and encouraging each other with, "Go Tarah!" "Go Elizabeth!" "Go Eli!" "Go Ethan!" They don't see gender stereotypes or they don't see societal pressures. They see confidence, competence and challenge. They see friends.

I am so thrilled that the schools offer these opportunities for our children and want to acknowledge the the educators who devote their time beyond the school day, the community of parents who support our children and the students themselves for being better to each other than we as a society can be to ourselves.

The article notes that while there are still bumps in the road for women in STEM careers, the future has never been brighter.

I agree.

Photo credit: Piscataways Schools

How Do I Break into HR?

Last night, I had the opportunity to participate in a Human Resource/ IO Psychology Panel at St. Cloud State University.

Arranged by Professors Kevin Mlodzik and Elaine Davis, our panel represented public and private sector firms and broad range of HR experiences and my partners in crime were:

  • Pete Miller, VP of HR, Connexus Energy
  • Mardi Noyes, SPHR, Director of HR Catholic Charities
  • Corrine Carlson, Human Resources, St. Cloud Hospital
  • Lance Fenton, Global Survey Center Administrator, Korn/Ferry
  • Chuck Gorres, Director of Employee Service, Cold Spring Granite

We talked about our education and entry and progression into HR as well as current issues in the field. From the audience and professors, we addressed questions about networking (do it), finding internships (pound the pavement), differentiating yourself from others (highlight critical thinking skills), and what we enjoyed most about our jobs.

Clearly, top of mind for everyone in the room was breaking into the field and getting that first job. I wished (upon a star?) that we could tell them that if they do well in school, they will easily find a job. But that would not be true. The market is not that way. It's tough out there and Pete said it best when he said, "The best people don't always get the job."

I'd like to offer the students links to "getting that first job and breaking into HR" posts you've written or read. I am looking for been-there-done-it-and-here's-what-worked-or-didn't-work-for-me kinds of things. Whatcha got? Leave a comment or send me an email.

Last night, I saw an engaged audience of HR and Psychology students. If this is the future of our profession, we are going to be in great shape.