I know, I know, those LEGO trophies are awesome! But much more important than the trophies are why these three girls are holding them. They are the winners of the first Google Science Fair.
Earlier this year a panel of teachers reviewed over 7,500 entries from 90 countries into Google’s science competition. After identifying the top 60 semifinalist, voting was opened to the public to identify a People Choice Award. Simultaneously, the same 60 semifinalist were reduced to a field 15 by Google panel of judges. The finalist were then invited out to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA to be judged by a panel of science and technology experts. Although the competition was strong and vast, the three winners: Lauren Hodge, Naomi Shah, and Shree Bose were able to rise above the competition to wow the judges with their original scientific research.
From the NY Times article, First-Place Sweep by American Girls at First Google Science Fair,
Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist and one of the judges, said that gender did not play a role in deciding the winners. “This was a gender-neutral evaluation of all the work that was done,” he said. Nonetheless, “I was secretly very pleased to see that happen,” Dr. Cerf said. “This is just a reminder that women are fully capable of doing same or better quality work than men can.”
One of my biggest gripes with human history is how much certain ethnicities and one gender has been suppressed and often at times prohibited to contribute to the progress of society. Think how much further along we would be as a civilization if half the population—that being women—were always treated equal. Even of the half that have not been marginalized, only a smaller contingency has been granted the opportunities to play a role in progress because they were born on the right piece of land, of the right ethnicity, and even into the right socioeconomic status. The prevention of a proper education and equal opportunities to everyone, is an unfortunate black mark on human history.
This is why when I see stories like the results from the Google Science Fair I find a little comfort that things might be heading in a better direction. Science needs more women and minorities, not because they are women and minorities, but because they’re more minds working together for progress.