'Science cheerleader': Can pom-poms make girls love math and science?

Smart can be sexy, say a group of cheerleaders-turned-scientists out to dispel stereotypes and attract young women to their field

"Science Cheerleader" founder Darlene Cavalier (center), a Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader-turned-"Discover Magazine" staffer
(Image credit: YouTube)

The video: More than 50 current and former professional cheerleaders — all also science professionals or enthusiasts — put together a stereotype-rattling cheer at the U.S.A. Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. The video serves as an introduction to Science Cheerleader, a website founded by Darlene Cavalier, a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader who now works for Discover Magazine. The site is a clearinghouse for professional cheerleaders-turned scientists; it features interviews, updates about cheerleaders in the news, and primers on basic scientific knowledge.

The reaction: "At first the premise sounds a little questionable," says Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel. "Why does science have to have a sexy makeover in order to get girls interested?" But it turns out the site "actually provides an interesting picture" of women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including interviews that deal with discrimination they have faced along the way. Hopefully, the website will teach girls that "attractiveness is not a reflection on your intelligence." Although I'm "not the biggest fan of cheer squads," says Madeline Holler at Babble, "we need to do whatever it takes to get kids — especially girls — to get excited about math, engineering and science." So "three cheers if this works." Watch the Science Cheerleaders perform:

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