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Math and Science Do Matter for Girls

Discover how to prepare your daughter for math and science pursuits, and give her the encouragement she needs.

Math and Science Do Matter for Girls

Throughout the past decades, society has expected boys to excel in the "harder" classes (science and math) and girls in the "easier" ones (language and social studies). The fact is all areas of study can be hard or easy, depending on the individual child and her attitude. Another fact is that when it comes to the job market, college graduates with a math or science background can usually find better-paying jobs in more abundance. Women applicants, equipped with advanced math or science skills—especially in computer science—can often write their own tickets.


While the number of science and engineering bachelor's degrees obtained by women has increased, the number has decreased in computer science. In 1985 women earned 36 percent of those degrees, but in 1995 they earned only 28 percent. In 1999, only 17 percent of the high school students taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science Test were female.

Today's world is one where math and science are becoming ever more important, especially for girls and their future career choices. The clock cannot be turned back, but parents can step up and make sure their daughters are prepared for that challenge. That means they first have to lay the foundation for their girls to be math- and science-ready every day. It all starts with you, the parent. Yet no matter how gung-ho you are about math and science, begin with what your daughter truly likes. It does no good cramming a liking for those subjects down her throat when she has a love for literature or history. This is about her life and her gifts.

Physically Ready for Math and Science

Studying math and science takes a girl's full and nonstop concentration. There are no lulls in those classes as there may be in English when a teacher is likely to instruct his students to quietly read Act I of Romeo and Juliet or the next scenes in Lorraine Hans berry's work. So just as you would give your car a close checkup to ensure it is ready for a road trip, check to see if your daughter is at her best physically every day when she faces what could be her more difficult classes. You do that by closely examining the following:

  • Sleep schedule. Establish your girl's proper sleep pattern two weeks before school starts. Tired girls cannot concentrate as well as those who are well rested.
  • Breakfast choices. Girls who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in schools than those who do not eat one, or eat nothing but sugary cereals and candy.
  • Physical condition. Make sure her height, weight, and body mass index fall within a normal range.

Use your resourcefulness in handling any issues that crop up along those lines. Girls can take naps after school to add to their rest time. They can eat leftover cheese pizza—made with low-fat cheese—or a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato for breakfast. Or pack some food for later—to eat during break—if their stomach hasn't woken up yet. You don't have to limit her to the traditional breakfast foods. A daily quick jog around the block can do wonders physically, for both you and her.


Should I send my daughter to school when she is sick?

Check your daughter's school policy, but generally speaking, she can go to school with some minor conditions such as a slight cold or a slight temperature up to 100.5 degrees if there are no other symptoms, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you are unsure about how serious her cold or temperature is, keep her home.

In short, the healthier and more energetic your girl is, the more she is off to a great start when tackling her math and science courses.

Mentally Ready for Math and Science

Any time your daughter says something negative about science or math, counter it immediately with a positive statement. If she says, "I'm just not good in science and math," say, "Nobody knows how good they are in anything unless they try their best. Let me help you."

Then choose a deliberate course of action that may include the following plans:

  • Encourage her to join her school's math or science clubs. This works best if she and a friend sign up together.
  • Urge your daughter to become a lab assistant in her chemistry or physics class. Girls rarely volunteer, so challenge her to get out of her comfort zone.
  • Provide her with a role model, a "cool" mathematician or scientist who can mentor her.

If all else fails, you can "bribe" your daughter. Tell her to be daring in math and science and sign up for the hardest courses. You and she can negotiate on the payoff, but why not? Does your company not provide bonuses for extra-brilliant performance? Yet, at the same time, please be realistic. Not every girl is mentally geared toward these courses, so take into consideration your daughter's abilities and desires.

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