Friday, March 09, 2018

Women Now Leaving STEM Fields to Pursue ‘Social Justice’ Degrees

Two engineering professors have published the results of a new study that sheds light on why so few women graduate college with a STEM degree.

Led by Colorado School of Mines professor Greg Rulifson, the study tracked 34 freshmen engineering majors over the course of four years to explore what makes students, especially women, abandon engineering in lieu of other fields.

Of the 21 female students interviewed, fully one-third left engineering by their junior year. Rulifson and his co-author Angela Bielefeldt identified one factor common to all female students who left: the desire to “help society/other people,” or “social responsibility.”

The “social responsibility” definition includes “care for the marginalized and disadvantaged,” “environmental conservation,” and “empathy,” the professors noted.

Of the 21 female students, 14 expressed a strong dedication to social responsibility. Half of those students eventually switched majors upon realizing they wanted to pursue fields they felt had more to do with helping people.

One student, Maggie, switched to Community and International Development to study “systemic problems in different communities and how to address” them.

Jocelyn, another student, left engineering to study Environmental Policy, and hopes to become a lawyer. “I can make a bigger impact [that way],” Jocelyn told researchers.

Rulifson and Bielefeldt stated that they weren’t exactly surprised by the results.

They pointed to a 2014 Purdue University study, which discovered that the vast majority of young girls want to grow up to be “successful and caring,” but they don’t see that as an option for engineering professionals.

That study urged engineering departments to infuse a “feminist care of ethics” into their curricula to help retain women. By doing that, engineering students would be “provided with opportunities to define, address, and apply social responsibility continuously.”

Published in the new issue of the journal Engineering Studies, Rulifson and Bielefeldt’s new study similarly concludes that “engineering should include concern for people, communities, and societal welfare at the heart of the profession.”

“Women in engineering are more motivated by helping others, and engineering education needs to provide more examples of engineering as a helping profession,” the professors wrote.

Emerging research suggests that the effort to produce more female engineers has suffered from the Left’s activism in service of the “gender pay gap” narrative. As PJ Media reported last week, a recent study by Skidmore College professors found that scare stories -- false tales about how women are allegedly treated in STEM -- significantly decreased women’s desire to pursue STEM fields.

If one accepts that the lack of women in STEM is indeed a problem -- which it may well be -- this latest information shows that the problem was misdiagnosed as being primarily a bias issue, and thus led to failed solutions.

The efforts to push women into STEM have not only been ineffective, but have backfired. The taxpayer-funded National Science Foundation continues to grant millions of dollars every year to fight this issue; the money has been wasted.


I Go to a School Where an Attack Was Foiled. Here’s Why I’m Against Limiting Gun Rights

Police cars surrounded my high school as I walked fast across the street to the science building. Eyes were glancing in many directions. The slight panic—bordering on hysteria—was obvious.

Hundreds of students stayed home, but I did not. Why? Because the threat was safely locked away in jail.

Four months before the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, my own school in Cherokee County, Georgia, was under serious threat in October from two 17-year-old students.

Together, the two juniors at Etowah High School planned a Columbine-style attack using explosives, law enforcement authorities said.

But campus police and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office learned about the pair’s plans ahead of time through a tip, and reacted immediately to the first report. The two students are charged as adults with attempted murder and other offenses.

If that threat had not been stopped, many people at my school would be dead. It could have been me, my brother, my closest friends, or all of us.

But it was stopped. We are alive.

Having this perspective, my heart was shattered into pieces when I heard the news Feb. 14 about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. I have been praying for all of the students, teachers, and families who are going through hell right now.

“Take away gun rights. Something needs to be done,” my friends keep telling me.

Yes, something absolutely does need to be done, but not that way.

Reports and tips need to be taken seriously. Death is an unchangeable thing, and anyone who jokes about it is sick. A threat is not a joke; it is illegal, and it demands an immediate response.

Next, teachers should be trained and armed with guns, if they choose to be. I am constantly hearing friends say that if teachers were armed, they would be too scared to shoot back. That is an offensive statement, and it needs to stop.

A coach at Douglas High died because he ran into the shooting and jumped in front of a bullet. How could anyone say that man would have been afraid to shoot back? He chose to die so his students didn’t have to, yet people say teachers would have been hiding if they had guns.

Taking away gun rights isn’t going to help the cause. Immediately after our Founding Fathers listed our God-given rights, they decided that every American’s right “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Everyone needs a way to defend himself or herself. I realize that many people simply want to add restrictions to buying a gun for everyone, which I thought seemed reasonable at first until I researched it.

Some of the most infamous shooters were approved to buy a gun because their previous felonies had not been reported to gun shop owners. Those shooters should not have been approved, but they were.

The system of background checks needs to be tightened to include felons and those who courts say are mentally ill.

Taking away Second Amendment rights from everyone is not the solution.


How This Ohio Program Trains Teachers in 12 States to Carry Guns

When a school shooting occurred barely an hour away, administrators with the Mad River school district in Riverside, Ohio, looked for ways to keep it from happening at their schools.

“The safety of our students is paramount,” Mad River Superintendent Chad Wyen told The Daily Signal. “After several shootings in schools across the U.S. and some locally, I found myself not asking why but what is the most logical thing I can do as a superintendent to keep students and staff safe in my district.”

A 14-year-old boy shot at two other students in the cafeteria of Madison Junior/Senior High School in western Ohio in a nonfatal encounter in February 2016.

By that July, the Mad River district’s Board of Education had voted to arm certain trained teachers and staff.

“After much research, discussion, and thought, it became clear that creating an armed response team was the best way to ensure children in Mad River would have the best chance to survive if confronted with an armed intruder,” Wyen said in an email to The Daily Signal.

“My hope is we will never have to deal with a situation like what happened recently in Florida. But if we do, I at least know that we had the tools and resources to save lives,” the superintendent said.

Mad River is among school districts in Ohio that have put teachers through a 26-hour, three-day course that exceeds the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

The school district worked with the Riverside Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in implementing the program.

Trained Mad River faculty and staff have access to handguns that are locked in biometric safes during the school day in strategic locations; the safes open with the thumbprints of those authorized to use them.

The idea didn’t provoke opposition in the community, Mad River district spokeswoman Jennifer Alexander said.

“Teachers and staff apply. There is an interview process,” Alexander told The Daily Signal. “The training they receive is in line with police officer training.”

Teachers and staff from 76 of Ohio’s 88 counties have received training from a program called FASTER Saves Lives, which also has trained school personnel in 11 other states. FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response.

Among the earliest school districts to enroll five years ago was Ohio’s Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools, where designated school staff were authorized to carry concealed weapons.

Parents in Newcomerstown, near Columbus, asked for school personnel to be armed, Superintendent Jeff Staggs said.

“Training for the FASTER program is top of the line,” Staggs told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “Some people try to say teachers are not qualified to handle guns. That’s insulting. I was obviously a teacher before I was a superintendent, and I wasn’t qualified to teach before I was trained.”

Staggs said some have tried to make the matter political, but locally it is viewed as keeping kids safe. He noted the rapid pace at which the gunman killed 17 in Parkland.

“When you have a stopwatch of death, time is not a luxury,” Staggs said, adding:

Who is calling 911 when you’re running away from a shooter? It takes a minute to get a call through to 911. It would take 50 seconds for 911 to connect to dispatch and another minute for police to arrive. That’s why 17 people can be shot in three or four minutes.

In the past five years, the FASTER Saves Lives program has trained about 1,300 school personnel at public and private schools from 225 districts across 12 states. Sponsored by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, the program will train more than 200 this year, Director Joe Eaton told The Daily Signal.

The organization has two training facilities in Ohio, one in the town of West Union near Cincinnati and the other in the town of Rittman near Akron. It operates a third training center in Denver.

Eaton stressed armed response is just one facet of the program, which also trains school personnel on crisis management and emergency medical aid.

All training is at no cost to the schools. The program survives through private, individual donations, he said.

Under the program, generally only the superintendent, principals, and a few others are aware who is authorized to use the firearms.

Arming teachers has sparked a national debate since President Donald Trump suggested it as a solution in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting Feb. 14, in which a 19-year-old former student carrying an AR-15-style rifle killed 17.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the union’s members are decidedly against the idea.

“I spoke to 60,000 educators last night in a telephone town hall,” Weingarten said in a public statement, referring to a Feb. 21 event. “The response was universal, even from educators who are gun owners: Teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach. We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15.”

Eaton, director of the gun-training program, said he isn’t surprised about opposition from some.

“It is human nature to think of the one person you wouldn’t want to be part of this program,” Eaton said.

But, he added, once the public learns about the level of training that school staffs go through, they generally support the idea.

Since the idea of arming teachers leaped back into the news, Eaton said, the program has averaged 10 inquiries per day from teachers and administrators.

The Trump administration hasn’t been in contact with the organization, he said.

“We were a nonprofit educational charity who previously worked with youth firearms safety [and] suicide prevention, and partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics here in Ohio to encourage safe storage of firearms by parents of young children,” Eaton said.

The program began to do firearms training for teachers in 2013, in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where a young man shot and killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012.

“Five years ago, after Sandy Hook, we were contacted by schools wanting help to put together a safe and effective security plan,” Eaton said. “In short, we decided we were tired of watching our kids die in schools.”


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