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Uh-oh! 13-year-old boy wins science contest designed to get girls interested in science

March 3, 2016

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Science is hard!

Department of Delicious Irony: “Boy Wins Competition for Girls in Tech.”

“The EDF Energy company in the U.K. launched a campaign called #PrettyCurious to encourage young women, ages 11 to 16, to go into the field of science. You read that correctly, the masterful PR people at EDF chose to call the campaign Pretty Curious. Because girls are pretty! And apparently they can be curious, too?

“According to the BBC, the contest asked children ‘to think of ideas for a connected home bedroom product.’ Citing ‘fairness’ as a reason, the energy company later opened up the competition to all kids of all genders, but maintained that the competition was still targeted at girls.”

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#PrettyCurious was yet another of those endless efforts to get girls interested in STEM majors and STEM careers even though girls overall  (a) have less mental aptitude than boys to handle the basic math because of male-female brain differences; and (b) being people-oriented, find STEM stuff boring. So EDF reasoned that if you made the theme of the contest “home bedroom,” and stuck “pretty” into the contest name, you could maybe, just maybe, get some girls interested:
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He beat out a girl who designed “a software system for refrigerators that identifies the sell-by and use-by dates to minimize food waste.” Maybe the public, which got to vote for the winner among five finalists, decided that people didn’t really need fancy software to figure out when the hamburger meat was about to go south.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
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