“We must fight against inequalities in access to science to produce truer, more accurate knowledge”

Doctor in sociology and lecturer in educational sciences at the Catholic University of the West, Clémence Perronnet transcribed in The math bump does not exist (Otherwise, 272 p., € 19) the results of his thesis work on children’s taste for science. She believes that the attrition of girls and working class children in science is the result of exclusion mechanisms and a form of social censorship that she calls to fight.

The taste for science seems to evaporate very early on among girls and children of the lower classes. You bring new explanations to this situation. How did you arrive at this finding?

Through the terrain, perhaps the best starting point. I started this sociological survey in CM1 classes that I then found in 5e, In Lyon. The question was why there are so few girls in science. The initial hypothesis, which was quickly invalidated, was that it was probably that they have less cultural practices related to science. I was invited by a scientific mediation association which carried out a project with schools of the priority education network, so that I also asked myself the question for young people from the lower classes, girls and boys. In this social profile, it was the girls who had the most scientific hobbies outside of school, such as watching popular programs such as “C’est pas sorcier”. It was the girls who told me: “Science, I like it, I want to go, I can do it, I’m passionate about it!” “ An enthusiasm which then faded.

You describe this dropout at the time of college. What is happening at this time?

There are changes that are really specific to children’s life experience, the transition to adolescence, the reorganization of groups of friends, the place in the family, the roles that we may have, for children. girls in particular.

For them, what contributes to this shift, it is rather the vision of the figures of scientists in all this culture which they consume, not at all attractive because they are often men, old and ugly. They wonder if they themselves will not become ugly, and a little crazy, if they continue in this way. The rare female characters in popular science magazines have long been portrayed in domestic situations, or worse, as jugs, even as it progresses.

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