Unfortunately, we live in a society of stereotypes that are holding girls back, imposing gendered assumptions on their ambitions. The likelihood of a girl enrolled in grade 1 in Canada going on to receive a PhD in the sciences or engineering is around 1 in 225, compared to 1 in 117 for boys. This gap isn’t because of ability – there is little difference between girls’ and boys’ participation rates and performance levels in science and mathematics at the elementary and secondary school levels – or enthusiasm. However, we know that girls often feel less welcome and less confident in science as they move through the education system because of gendered messaging from media and marketing, adults, parents and teachers, the education, and work worlds ahead of them.
Inferior is a powerful, impartial, and thoroughly researched book that examines these dangerous stereotypes and the weak evidence that supports them. Throughout history, scientists have looked at the world around them, and taken the inequality they see as a biological fact. For the first 40 years of its existence, University of Toronto did not admit women . Yet women have always contributed to science in Canada and it is encouraging to see contributions of female scientists now being recognized at the highest international levels as evidenced by the recent Nobel prize awarded to Dr. Donna Strickland (University of Waterloo).
How could we begin to compare women and men’s contributions to our understanding of the world? As men have historically outnumbered women in science, they’ve gotten away with justifying irrational biases by co-opting the rational language of science. But we can change that.
Angela Saini is an engineer, science writer, and broadcaster, and her work in Inferior has provided us with the evidence to challenge biases that have long reigned in science. She meticulously breaks down studies throughout history that have contributed harmful and now ingrained ideas about the differences between the brains of women and men – and the inferiority of women – pointing out flawed interpretations and overlooked societal factors. Saini has fueled our advocacy and renewed inspiration to highlight and celebrate women's contributions to science.
We want to share Inferior’s power with Canada’s young people. We want to inspire a generation of students to understand their potential is not limited by their gender or sex. We are raising money to get a copy of Inferior in every publicly-funded secondary school – around 2000 schools – in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. This is just the first step; ultimately, we hope to send a copy of Inferior to publicly-funded secondary schools all over Canada. There has already been a successful fundraising campaign in the United Kingdom , and another campaign is currently in progress in New York City .
We are partnering with Beacon Press to achieve our goal of getting Inferior into schools across Canada. Please help us by donating to the “Inferior in Canada” campaign; any and all contributions are appreciated!
Who we are:
- Krishana Sankar, PhD, University of Toronto (@krishanasankar )
- Vanessa Sung, PhD, McGill University (@sung_vanessa )
- Jinan Rousselle, Medical Researcher at Dalhousie Medicine NB (@Jinanrousselle )
- Imogen Coe, PhD. Former founding Dean of Science, and Professor at Ryerson University (@ImogenRCoePhD )
- Sarah Johnson, PhD. University Lecturer at Simon Fraser University (@SJDJ )
For information/media purposes: [email redacted]
- Tracy Moreira-Lucas
- Dawn Bazely
- Krista Lamb
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