"My niece just took the ACT and got a perfect score on the math section. 25 years ago, when I took the test, the kids who aced the math section were pretty special. Her score, combined with straight A's so far in high school, suggest to me that she might be able to go to a top university (MIT?) based on her math aptitude. The rub is that she doesn't like math or science, even though she finds them easy. She doesn't want to be an engineer or scientist. I thought the folks here would be a great group to ask: What are some creative, not too nerdy professions that nonetheless require a talent for math, engineering, or science?"I was immediately reminded me of some of the discussions held at the National Conference on Women in Engineering last week. For example, one of the key themes touched upon was the fact that girls may not become interested in science and engineering because they see it as too focused on the tools themselves (computers, wrenches, electronics, whatever) rather than what can be done with them. This goes a bit further than the usual nerdy image and similar kinds of turn-offs.
The comments for the Slashdot article spent some time emphasizing that someone with good math or science skills shouldn't be pushed into doing a career they don't want to do just because of these abilities.
A few examples:
I'm from the UK and I suffered the same fate that you wish to throw upon your daughter - being coerced into a specific degree program at a top London university just because I excelled in that area in my secondary (high) school, without realising myself what a change it would be from the material I had learnt thus far through my life. It certainly didn't do me any favours.
I myself was pressed into (natural) 'science' because math was easy to me, which in the long run (decades) turned out to be a major desaster that I am still trying to recover from.
I agree - my sister was nearly pressured into an engineering route at college by schooling and sponsorship deals but stuck to her guns and has a postgraduate diploma in music performance on two instruments. She's very happy - she can do the music when the work is available for her instruments, and to fill in of the time can get "technical" positions in sales/marketing for engineering companies.
You are better off asking her what she wants to do. What is she interested in? If she has no idea then going to a large university where she'll be exposed to a number of different fields and opportunities is not a bad idea.
In fact, I do not disagree with this sentiment - nobody should be pushed into a certain field because others perceive it as being right for them.
It is worth our time to help young women see what these fields are really all about. If those who might have an aptitude for science or engineering never get a chance to see the real story - outside of the nerdiness, or the focus on tools - they may never discover that they also have a real love for it.
I think this is largely what the original question might really be about: How do I show my niece the amazing things scientists and engineers do to help society? What do they do with all these tools that the fields are so well known for? What makes these careers so fulfilling? By giving the niece the power of this information, perhaps she will make a more informed decision. And if that decision doesn't happen to be science or math or engineering, then that's ok.