Sooo, bear with me on this one…
I have taken up running, much to my extreme surprise. I need to get fit again and the gym is too far away to walk (and I have no car), so running it is. I’ve started using the NHS Couch to 5k app, which is basically a podcast that eases you in to running by doing alternate walks and runs. What I love about it is how Laura, who voices it, is endlessly patient and encouraging.
I’ve tried other exercise apps before, like FitBit and Nike, but they are based on competition, rather than encouragement, and the competition aspect of it really puts me off. The fact that my friend Rachel does more steps than me and runs more than me is not going to inspire me to work harder, because she’s way fitter than me and runs marathons. I don’t run marathons and never will run marathons, so the false competition either just makes me cross or totally demotivates me. (None of this, of course, is Rachel’s fault, as she is utterly lovely and I’m super impressed that she runs marathons!)
This leads me to wonder whether part of what puts less competitive girls off STEM is the fact that technology itself often couched in terms of competition. There are robotics competitions, science prizes, science essay writing competitions… and if you’re a) not a joiner and b) not competitive, these things seem designed to drive you away.
So I think one thing that we need to be mindful of when drawing up our educational resources is that we need to cater for a variety of personality types, including shy, quiet, loner girls who wouldn’t compete if their lives depended on it.