Recently, Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North West, turned 4.
It’s hard to believe how quickly North is growing up, and Kim certainly seemed overwhelmed.
“My baby girl turned 4 years old today!” the reality star wrote on Instagram. “She’s my light & my everything!!! I love you to the moon & back North.”
And while North probably received dozens of expensive gifts, one stood out: a set of thoughtful presents from North’s Aunt Kendall.
Rather than spend lavishly on the toddler, Kendall elected to pick out a science book. She supplemented the present with bags of materials for science experiments (including one labeled “sticky slime,” which certainly sounds like a lot of fun for a four-year-old).
Kim showed off her daughter’s gift on Instagram as a way of thanking her sister.
The reaction to the gifts was mostly positive (well, as positive as the reaction to anything involving a Kardashian). “Kendall’s gift to North is so nice and educational,” wrote Twitter user Lorraine Kaye. “Such a cute auntie.”
Many of the comments focused on the creativity of the gift, but some pointed out its importance from a social perspective. It’s no secret that women are drastically underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. In 2012, only 4.8 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences were earned by women, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.
Female and male students score about equally on standardized testing, so many researchers believe that societal pressures are responsible for the gender discrepancy. In any case, women currently make up only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, although that number has gradually improved over the past two decades.
Gifts like Kendall’s aren’t going to change the world, of course, but they may help to fight the societal pressures that drive some young girls away from scientific study.
Of course, the Kardashians aren’t famous because of their interest in science—and science won’t let them forget it.
In 2014, a paper published in Genome Biology introduced the “Kardashian index,” described as “a measure of discrepancy between a scientist’s social media profile and publication record based on the direct comparison of numbers of citations and Twitter followers.”
In other words, the Kardashian index was designed to show whether or not a scientist’s fame is warranted (ouch).
Interestingly, that paper noted the relatively high number of female scientists whose achievements were overlooked.
“There are many scientists who, with hindsight, did not get much recognition for their achievements while they were alive,” wrote author Neil Hall. “Consider Mary Anning, a fossil
Hopefully, women claim a much bigger place in the world of scientific research by the time North heads off to college. In the meantime, we’re sure that North has plenty of fun experiments to perform.