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Things That Go Ick vs Damsels in Distress: gender separation and science

On 1/11/14, I saw a tweet from @docfreeride regarding the summer programs at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences


  1. Dr. FreeRide is referring specifically to the 'boys only' program here, listed as follows:
    "BOYS - it’s time to get icky and this camp is only for you!  Do you enjoy things that make people go “eww”? We will be investigating slimy, sticky creatures, and concoctions that are special and some that we find around us every day.  Go knee deep into mud pies, slime, and make a few sour faces. Use your magnifying glass to take a closer look at insects, ticks, tapeworms, frogs, and spiders. You have been warned! This will be messy!"

    As Dr. FreeRide notes, this is an easy thing to fix. Why boys only?
  2. I was pretty annoyed myself.
  3. Other people agreed and chimed in.
  4. And we were all set for some rage. I was angry. A boys only program at that age? When kids are between 4-6, and just understanding that girls don't do some things and boys don't do other things? To me it seemed like a really awful message to send. I mean, sure, Ick is great! Why not have both sexes?

    Then @biochembelle stopped me in my tracks.
  5. Because I, in the my rage, had not LOOKED to see if there were other programs, or if there were girls only programs at all. And you know what? SHAME ON ME. I didn't look before I tweeted and I should know better. I started to dig.
  6. This took me a while because it turns out the website is not the easiest thing to navigate, but...
  7. Again, finding a description was a chore. Biochembelle found it.
  8. "GIRLS – this camp is for you!!!  We are looking for girls who are ready to meet and befriend dragons of all kinds- from dragonflies to bearded dragons! Get ready to touch and learn about the real animals behind many common fairy tales, myths, and come investigate what makes them “magical.” Our goal is to bring out your inner, daring damsel."

    I...guess this is cool, actually. I never did princesses as a child, but I have friends with kids who are, well, super princesses. So, maybe, this could work. But still...boys get ick and girls get dragonflies? I was still skeptical. And so were others.