Are we targeting the “right” gender

Recently Verizon kicked off a widely publicized media campaign “targeting” girls and STEM education.  The purpose of the campaign is to encourage more girls to pursue careers in the STEM industries.

While I do believe in the importance of encouraging more girls and young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math I can’t help wonder if the Verizon campaign’s message is doing harm as well as good.  Historically, girls do better in school than boys and while the data for career choices that Verizon puts forth is correct and there is a disconnect shouldn’t we as society be focusing on the real problem now – boys and their continually struggles with education.

Take a look at this video which highlights some of the statistics from a 2010 Newsweek article on the statistics of the current trends of boys in Education

Many argue that we as a society are focusing our education on the wrong gender.  That we are continuing to promote a myth about education and STEM while ignoring the real problem.

Shortly after Verizon released their marketing campaign NPR published this article –  The Modern American Man, Charted.

One graph in particular,

chart on education

really points out the differences in the success among girls in education over boys. And while the article does point out that girls are less likely to pursue higher degrees in STEM they are far more likely to pursue higher degrees to support their career goals. (Thank you @ronishayne for the link!)

There are two sides to every story and in this instance, and Verizon makes a compelling case in their campaign which in part is encouraging America to support young girls and be mindful of what you say to them to avoid gender biases as you can see from the  two PSA’s below;

As a woman, I would have rather seen Verizon promote education and push a campaign that would support learning  on both ends of the gender spectrum.  I think it is important girls be encouraged to play in the dirt or pick up a power drill (I have owned one since I was a teenager and my parents never told me not to get my dress dirty or put down a starfish.)  However, I think a commercial with boys being encouraged to design fashion, cook, tend to people’s needs a nurse,  or even teach would support a campaign that is working on counter-acting gender bias but in many ways creating it by only targeting one gender.


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