EDF energy is a UK-based electricity company that hosts a yearly campaign aimed at “inspiring girls’ curiosity about science, technology, engineering and maths”. Their Pretty Curious Challenge is an annual competition that hopes to challenge young girls to create and invent new devices using their knowledge and passion for STEM.
They cited that only 1 out of every 7 people who work in the STEM field is a female, and they hope to change that by “sparking the imagination of young girls and inspiring them to stay curious”.
That sounds great. The only problem? This year’s Pretty Curious Challenge winner was a boy.
Josh, 13, won the Pretty Curious Challenge with his Pad Generator, a gaming device that creates kinetic energy while you play.
EDF announced last year that the competition would now be open to both boys and girls in the interest of fairness, though assured the public that the Pretty Curious campaign itself was still aimed at inspiring girls. I wonder how inspired those girls feel when they realize that even when there’s a competition aimed specifically for their gender, they still lose to a boy.
But why is this not okay? Isn’t equality what us feminists are fighting for? Equal opportunity for all? This would be true if women had the same equal opportunities as men, but we don’t.
Let’s look at some other technology-oriented competitions.
- The Dupont Challenge is a science essay competition open to grades 6-12. Of the six winners for both the junior and senior divisions, two were girls.
- The National STEM Video Game Challenge encourages the same kind of passion for STEM as the Pretty Curious Challenge. Of the fifteen finalists from 2013-2015, three were girls.
- The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest challenges students to solve simple problems with imaginative inventions. There were twenty-two children combined in the top four winning teams of 2015, and six of them were girls.
There are more, but who has the time? The great thing that the Pretty Curious Challenge could have done, which is allowing girls interested in STEM to finally have a chance to compete on an equal playing field, was destroyed when they opened the competition to both genders for “fairness”. Boys have fairness in every other science-geared competition out there. Let the girls have their chance.