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Science Cheerleader Roots Kids on Toward STEM Careers

Think cheerleaders and scientists come from different worlds? You're wrong.


What began as a blog demonstrating that the art of cheerleading and the pursuit of a scientific career aren't mutually exclusive has evolved into a performance troupe-cum-activist group that's shattering stereotypes about what your typical scientist looks like. Started by a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader Darlene Cavalier, who's now a senior advisor to Discover magazine, Science Cheerleader is a group of rah rah girls who can hold their own in the scientific arena, as well as the sporting one.

From a chemist at Eli Lilly who once shook her stuff on the sidelines for the Indianapolis Colts to an engineer and dance choreographer who rooted on the Tennessee Titans, the group assembled 11 of its members to make an appearance at last month's USA Science and Engineering Festival, an event held on the National Mall intended to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to the nation's youth.

Appearing on the NPR program Tell Me More last week, Cavalier noted that the membership of Science Cheerleader is already at 50 women—and that she's yet to survey the NBA for its science-inclined dancers.

[S]ome people feel that this is a campaign that strives to change the stereotypes of cheerleaders, and that's fine - or change the stereotypes of scientists, and that's a different perspective.
All in all, though, it is about empowering young women to realize that they can follow both of these dreams and the fact that there are 1.5 million little cheerleaders out there, this has the potential to be a very effective campaign in enlightening them and opening up doors that they may not have seen as viable to them.

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