Thursday, December 7, 2017

Peeing Contests Make Boys Better Suited For Physics, Researchers Claim.

THIS IS A REAL QUOTE FROM A RECENT ACADEMIC ARTICLE: “Playful urination practices…may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics.” In other words, boys are naturally more gifted at physics because they can shoot a leak.  

In an article penned for the Times Educational Supplement, researchers from Abertay University in Dundee claim that “pissing contests” can give little boys a leg up on understanding projectile motion. Assuming they pee 5 times a day – they can rack up 10,000 hours of “experimenting” with Newton’s physics of motion by the age of 14.

Hmmm, so much to unpack here.

My most pressing question: if 14-year-old boys are veritable Gladwellian masters of pee projectiles, why does my little brother always leave pee drops on the toilet seat?

All jokes aside, the idea that men have some advantage in physics because they spend their childhood playing with pee projectiles is clearly illogical, and has been staunchly refuted by education experts. For example, Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said recently: 

"The academics have put their finger on an important problem – there are too few women in the sciences and engineering. But their explanation is frankly ridiculous. Where is the evidence? Males are more attracted to the physical sciences, maths and engineering because on average they have higher spatial and numerical abilities than do females."

Phew! I almost thought that the blatant sexism behind the peeing theory was a just fringe incident. Good to know it's still pervasive among mainstream thought-leaders. 

In Evelyn Fox Keller’s book, Reflections on Gender in Science, she claims that science can never be gender-free until we acknowledge the current gender divisions which pervade it (Keller, 1985). Her contemporary, Genevieve Lloyd, goes one step further to argue that reason itself has been gendered male, and if women want to be perceived as participants in ‘reason,’ they must conform to the masculine norms of scientific thought; they must give up/distance themselves from some vital aspect of their “femaleness.”

Both Keller and Lloyd agree that the first step is to acknowledge the issue, so here it is: today, only 11.1% of physicists and astronomers are women ( If it isn’t pee projectiles or 'natural disposition,' what is it?

There’s no easy answer to that question, but I believe a key piece of the puzzle lies in the way that we teach science. Research shows that when we explain the context of an equation, little girls are much more likely to engage. After all, physics is the study of our universe and beyond, not just some arcane idea trapped inside a textbook...or a toilet bowl.

What do you think? Should mainstream STEM education change in order to address the gender gap?


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Are Video Games the Reason for the Gender Gap in Coding?

Check out our post by amazing journalist/guest-blogger Matt Nussbaum below!

"Women are under-represented across STEM fields, but the problem is particularly acute in the field of computer science. You can see the starkness of the gap in the statistics (e.g., while women receive more than 50 percent of total college degrees, they receive just 18 percent of computer science degrees), or in a cursory glance at your favorite web companies: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Snapchat -- all founded by men and dominated by men today.

At Google, women make up only 30 percent of the workforce and only 17 percent of the tech workforce. At Yahoo!, women represent 15 percent of the tech workforce, and 10 percent at Twitter. This while women account for 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

Recent work on the issue indicates that the seeds of male-dominance were planted decades ago with the emergence of personal computers. Computers and one of their primary early uses - gaming -- were marketed almost exclusively to men and boys (you can read/hear more about this here). The trickle down effect is easy to see. Society came to view computers as a "boy thing." So, like toy trucks or plastic guns, personal computers were given to boys much more than to girls. Soon enough, a pop culture stereotype emerged of what a computer geek was and it was a white male. Movies and TV shows reinforced and, to some extent, still reinforce the stereotype. When young girls were steered away from computers, they missed out on years learning. Its no wonder then that, finding themselves surrounded in so-called introductory classes by male peers who had been coding since middle school, many decided to pursue other interests.

Understanding this story is important. For every male-founded Google, Facebook and Twitter, consider the great innovations that were delayed (or missed entirely) because girls were steered away from computer science. When academic fields are seen as the forte of just men, it doesn't just hurt women -- it hurts all of us. You certainly wouldn't go into a fight with one hand tied behind your back. Why would we, as a society, pursue the great innovations of tomorrow with only half of the population encouraged to participate?

The gender gap in STEM cannot be traced to any single cause, but facile narratives that label certain fields or interests as specifically male are certainly part of the problem. It's part of the reason why companies like LabCandy work to make sure girls know science is for everyone."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Beyond thrilled/honored/excited to officially announce that LabCandy will be featured in next months issue of Glamour Magazine!

Our CEO, Olivia, is one of Glamour's top ten college women for 2015. The story includes photos of our goggles and storybook as well as our lab coat, which you can see on Olivia down below. It also gives a little background about how LabCandy got its start, and our mission moving forward. SO proud to be able to spread the word about the importance of girls in STEM on this international platform. The more we talk about it, the closer we get to making our mission a reality!

LabCoat: Purple Fusion

Group shot with all of the top ten college winners

Thank you all for supporting us on this wild journey! Many people who read this blog have been with us since the very beginning, and your continued support is invaluable to our mission. Let's keep showing the world that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you are passionate about STEM, then YOU are what a scientist looks like!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You!!!

The past few days have been filled with wrapping, cutting, sorting, taping, shrink-wrapping, double-checking, and SHIPPING! It's official. We shipped the first batch of our Kickstarter awards today! The rest will ship out on Monday, so keep your eyes on your mailboxes.

Getting the chance to bring LabCandy to life through this product has been such an incredible process. We've learned a lot, and the future looks bright. To all of our Kickstarter backers and everyone else who supported us - thank you!! We hope you like your new LabCandy gear :)

Below is a sneak peak into LabCandy's shipping and distribution center...

(The 'real' Ava testing out our goggle kits)

(Olivia surrounded by some of our finished combo packs)

(LabCandy took over the Post Office)

(T-shirts hand folded with love)

(Hope that you enjoy!)

Let us know what you think once the products are in your hands. All feedback is welcomed and appreciated. Also stay tuned...the e-commerce portion of our website is launching soon! Get ready to tell your friends!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Making LabCandy: Sewing And Stitches And Sparkles, Oh My!

Thought you all might enjoy seeing some behind-the-scenes shots of our fabulous lab coats being manufactured. We are so excited to share them soon with our young girl scientists!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How One Teacher Changed My Life #InspiredSTEM

My passion for science was fueled by a series of incredible teachers. In particular, Mary Cahill and Denise Reitz.

Ms. Cahill was my middle school biology teacher, and her enthusiasm for biology was infectious.  Ms. Reitz was my high school advisor as well as science teacher.   Her expert advice,  kind professionalism, and non-stop encouragement steered me to a better life path. I wrote her into the LabCandy storybook, and she helps Ava save the day just as she did with me many times.

Those people who inspire us to stretch outside ourselves deserve a shout out!  They are teachers, mentors, family, friends, clergy folk, business women and men, and other rock stars who are often behind the scenes but play a big part in our lives.  Who inspired you? Join me in giving them recognition by posting it on Facebook or Twitter, and including the hashtag #InspiredSTEM. (photos rock too).

I plan to pull these statements together for a dedicated page on LabCandy’s website that gives recognition to all of the inspirational people who have touched our lives!