By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 5, 2007 11:14 am

With all the hullabaloo over women in science and engineering, let’s hear if for the girls who just made history in New York!

Girls won top honors for the first time in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, one of the nation’s most coveted student science awards, which were announced yesterday at New York University.

And most importantly, congratulations to all of the extraordinary young participants in this wonderful competition–These girls and boys give me great hope for a brighter future!



Comments (8)

  1. Those winners, and indeed all the participants in the competition, deserve our cheers.

    As most readers of this blog know, I have a special interest in “Women’s Adventures in Science.”

    Click my name for my most recent blog entry about the work of Heidi Hammel, whose young readers’ biography I had the honor to write (links at the blog entry for that).

    December 7 will see a once-in-42-years solar system event, the Uranian equinox, and Heidi will be observing it using some of the world’s best telescopes. Meanwhile, some of her male colleagues will be scoping out the moons of Mars.

    Happy Uranian equinox, boys and girls! And stay tuned for news from Deimos and Phobos!

  2. Emily

    Thanks for this news. I read the story and was struck by this snippet:
    Three-quarters of the finalists have a parent who is a scientist. The parents of Alicia Darnell, who won second place, are medical researchers at Rockefeller University, and her maternal grandparents were scientists, too. Isha Himani Jain, who took home the top individual prize, published her first research paper with her father, a professor at Lehigh University, when she was 10 or 11; her mother is a doctor.
    This fact is slightly worrying to me. What about students who don’t have the benefit of a parent is a scientist? Who will draw these students – who are likely equally talented in science as their peers in the Siemens competition – into high-octane science, math, and engineering opportunities early on? Students who have a parent that works as a scientist already have a huge advantage over their peers in terms of exposure to the sciences (how many researchers would take on a 10 or 11 year old co-author?) and, from the statistic given in the article, access to competitions (after all, you have to know about the competitions in order to enter, and not having a parent or other mentor to help direct information about these activities to you means that you are less likely to find out about them). While some programs such as EnvironMentors attempt to reach students at the high school level, we should also be thinking creatively about how to get even younger students involved in science.

  3. Kudos to these young ladies, and to all the contestants. Well done. It is always encouraging to see young people with a keen interest in science.

    The news does, however, highlight a disturbing trend in science in recent years: the loss of men from the pipeline. Sounds strange, I know, but it is really striking, as can be attested by university faculty nationwide. The gender ratio of students entering our graduate program (in marine science) in recent years has been steadily skewed towards women. And our summer “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” program has been almost unable to attract a single male student in the last several years! Colleagues at other institutions report similar stories. Admittedly, this is primarily in biological and environmental sciences (there is still a major male domination of physical sciences and engineering) and it is at the entry level, rather than among tenured full professors. But what is going on here? I fear we may be facing a phenomenon that would have seemed unthinkable even a decade ago: males as an underrepresented group in science (?).

  4. Linda

    BIG CONGRATULATIONS to all who entered this important competition, and especially to all the winners.

  5. Nebularry

    This is simply the most exciting news!! I have a granddaughter who is very interested in science. I’m going to forward this blog and related article links to her. What an inspirational story. My congratulations to all the girls involved.

  6. This is such great news! I’m sure this will serve as inspiration for a lot of young women out there :)

  7. Superstringy Indian

    I wonder why is it the triumph of women is celebrated and the fact that men will always dominate science and math is never ever mentioned.Nor is it mentioned that all field medalists are men.Nor is it mentioned an all-male team won the 2008 math olympiad.Nor is it mentioned countries toward the bottom in the olympiad possess a greater percentage of females and the top teams very few girls.
    Confirmation bias,indeed.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


See More

Collapse bottom bar