As researchers fret about gender equity, girls sweep science competition

As researchers continue to worry about the scarcity of women in science-related academic programs and professional fields, three teenage girls wiped out the competition in their respective age classes in the first Google Science Fair, Kenneth Chang reports at The New York Times.

The three bested some 10,000 entrants from 91 countries. “It just starts to show you that women are stepping up in science,” said Shree Bose of Forth Worth, whose research into maintaining the effectiveness of a drug used to fight ovarian cancer won in the 17-18 age group and the grand prize.

Naomi Shah of Portland, OR won the age 15-16 category with a study of the effects of air quality on lungs, and Lauren Hodge of Dallastown, PA, won the age 13-14 category for research on whether marinades reduce the amount of cancer-causing compounds produced by the grilling of meat.

Meanwhile, a study published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology suggests science education should be made more “girl friendly,” reports Kathy Seal at Miller-McCune. The study, by University of Luxembourg educational researcher Sylvie Kerger, founded that textbooks present real-world science problems “in masculine contexts.”

“How does a laser read a CD?” was a masculine way to ask about physics, while “how is a laser used in cosmetic surgery?” addressed stereotypical girls’ concerns, Kerger said.