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First Lego League in Virginia and DC


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First Lego League Discussion <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 14 Dec 2008 13:04:39 -0500
Debbie Brumback <[log in to unmask]>
Debbie Brumback <[log in to unmask]>
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Hi Kevin,
Hope you don't mind me sending my reply back to the whole group.

I don't have a conclusion.  I'm still wondering, looking for an answer in
places not always considered, and therefore, opening it up for discussion.

When I read the definition of gracious professionalism, it seems like its
about channeling the pumped up energy of guys (or girls) who are extremely
bright and confident and therefore, at risk of being too vocal and proud
about their successes.  

There is another group of potential engineers/computer scientists who are a
bit more soft spoken, such as quiet girls that can happily sit quietly in
the corner doing math problems.  They might have good ideas for engineering
or programming as well.  But, it's not in their nature or upbringing to
boldly challenge a guy with an equally good design idea.   Emphasizing the
importance of gracious professionalism doesn't challenge them at all to jump
up and defend their great idea.  Maybe "standing up for myself", as my
daughter mentioned, is implemented for them by moving into another computer
group or another degree program or choosing a professional field like music
or medicine where they are given their own students or patients and can work
independently, remain soft-spoken, and also be heard.

Another point that I've tried to make with my daughter regarding computer
science and math students, for her case she mostly has observed her brother
and other guys, is that these guys can be risk takers and gamblers. Teenage
guys often have a bit too much confident that things will turn out their
way.  Compare this to a girl that plays the violin and quilts perfect quilt
squares.  That's not a person whose is going to challenge a guy's idea and
recommend the team try it her way until she has had time to make sure her
ideas are going to work.  But, she won't have time to think through her
ideas and prepare them to be presented while the guys are already forging
ahead on their grand ideas, working every free minute on their programming
or robot, valiantly taking chances and running on a trial and error sort of
approach to finding a solution.  

I'm not saying either approach is right or wrong.  But, I do see two very
different approaches to reaching an engineering/programming solution that
might just be frustrating some girls to the point of moving into other
fields of study.  The guy's way seems to start the ball rolling earlier
leaving the girl's design idea left in the dust, even if in the end it would
have worked just as well or better.  My daughter sent her brother a Murphy's
Law poster for his birthday.  The phrase that caught her eye, having
witnessed about 4 years of lego league work, was "There's never time to do
it right but always time to do it over."  Maybe a clue to a girl approach to
problem solving versus a boy's approach?

Focusing on gracious professionalism again, its a wonderful concept that I
completely support.  I'm just asking how it applies to the girls that, well,
aren't even showing up for lego league meetings or computer science classes
in college?  I suspect many of these girls would be models of gracious
professionalism.  Yet, in order for them to be successful lego team members
or computer programmers they might need some other motto that works on
building up the very same skills that gracious professionalism is trying to
subdue in the overzealous guys.

I'm generalizing and stereotyping to make my point.  I  know there are many
girls that need to work on gracious professionalism and boys that are
already gentlemen blessed with plenty of gracious professionalism.

>  -----Original Message-----
> From: 	KevinHines [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
> Sent:	Saturday, December 13, 2008 9:04 PM
> To:	Debbie Brumback
> Subject:	RE: [VADCFLL-L] Gracious Professionalism.  Is there an equal
> but somewhat different motto needed for girls?
> Debbie,
> Thank you for your post about girls in FLL & gracious professionalism.  I
> have also been thinking about posting on a related topic: how to recruit
> more girls into our FLL teams.
> I appreciate you bringing up this subject; you bring up a number of
> interesting points.
> I do think we, as a society, need to find ways specifically to attract and
> retain girls and women in the world of engineering and science, and FLL is
> a great way to put this into practice.
> I don't actually understand what your conclusion is, regarding how the
> definition of gracious professionalism affects girls and women... and I
> would like to understand.
> Is there another way to state this, so that I would understand?
> If talking on the phone would work better than email, please feel free to
> call me anytime.  I want to understand.
> PS - My comments are embedded in your email, below.
> Thanks,
> Kevin

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