Aisles of pink and blue in toy stores. Miniskirts for five-year-old girls and heavy-weight dungarees for five-year-old boys. “Science kit for girls!” that promise a recipe for lip gloss. Every aspect of our kids’ lives is gendered. And when they don’t fall into that neat bucket of what girls should like or what boys should like, it can be tough.

That’s what happened to eight-year-old Sophia Spencer. Sophia loves bugs—especially grasshoppers. She likes to hold them, carry them on her shoulder and explain their virtues to her classmates. Her classmates used to mock her enthusiasm. But that soon turned into an outpouring of support from the entomological community. And now it’s even resulted in her very own byline in the Annals of Entomological Society of America.  

It started last year, when Sophia’s mom Nicole wrote to the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) for advice on how to encourage her daughter to continue her love for bugs, despite the mockery from her peers.


“She is often teased at school by her peers because she will proudly display her current bug friend on her shoulder,” Nicole wrote. “I was wondering if a professional entomologist would speak to her over the phone to encourage her love and explain to her how she could make this into a career.”

Adding the hashtag “BugsR4Girls,” the ESC enthusiastically took on the task, sharing Nicole’s email across their Twitter platform. The tweet has since reached more than a million people.

Entomologist were eager to help, offering everything from copies of books, to entomology equipment, to penpal-ship.  




The success of this tweet was so immense that it became the subject of a study published in the Annals of Entomological Society of America for a special issue on science communication. The article, called “Engaging for a Good Cause: Sophia’s Story and Why #BugsR4Girls” is written by PhD student and author of the original tweet Morgan D. Jackson, with coauthorship going to none other than Sophia Spencer.

Sophia wrote a section of her own in the paper that is absolutely charming. “Last year in the fall I had a best bug friend and his name was Hoppers. When I first found Hoppers, I was kind of scared because that was the first time I held a grasshopper. When I grabbed him, he peed on me, and I thought he had bit me and that was my blood, so I flinged him and he landed somewhere on the stairs, but I found him and I was still a little bit scared, but I realized the he still liked me, like that was just a way to see if I was going to hurt him!”

She also wrote about how positive the experience with the entomological community had been. “After my mom sent the message and showed me all the responses, I was happy. I felt like I was famous. Because I was!”

The experience has heightened Sophia’s desire to become an entomologist. “It felt good to have so many people support me, and it was cool to see other girls and grown-ups studying bugs. It made me feel like I could do it too, and I definitely, definitely, definitely want to study bugs when I grow up, probably grasshoppers."

And as for the naysayers? In Sophia’s own words: “If somebody said bugs weren't for girls, I would be really mad at them, but I wouldn't do anything, I would just not talk to them. I think anything can be for anybody, including bugs.”

CNN video/Win McNamee/Getty Images

Maine's Democratic primary is slated for March 3.

The vote will determine who faces off against Senator Susan Collins in November.

Keep reading...
ABC/The View

President Donald Trump has made no effort to keep his thoughts on the trial of his former advisor, Roger Stone, a secret.

Stone was convicted of lying to Congress, obstructing justice, and threatening a witness last year. When prosecutors recommended a seven to nine year prison sentence, Trump fumed on Twitter and the Justice Department subsequently overrode the opinion of its prosecutors, who resigned in response.

Today, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his crimes, leading everyone to ask: Will Trump pardon one of his most vocal allies?

Keep reading...
Chris Graythen/Getty Images // Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With 2.4 billion active users, Facebook has become a breeding ground for disinformation. Misleading or outright false allegations played an unignorable part of the assault on the 2016 election and a number of lawmakers say Facebook isn't doing enough to curtail fake news ahead of 2020.

Now a recent Washington Post report detailing Facebook's response to fake news pages after President Donald Trump's shocking victory in 2016 is raising even more concerns.

Keep reading...
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republicans often claim their party has the upper hand with voters when it comes to fiscal responsibility. When a Democrat is in office, one of the chief complaints you can count on from Republican lawmakers is that the President is ballooning the deficit, or sending the federal debt skyward.

This hasn't quite been the case when it's a Republican President occupying the White House.

Keep reading...
NBC News

Contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination debated in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday ahead of the state's primary in the most confrontational debate yet.

Present on the debate stage for the first time was billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a late entry to the campaign whose advertising blitz helped contribute to his rise in the polls, despite having yet to appear on a primary ballot.

Keep reading...
Leon Neal/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's constant trips to his own golf properties around the globe has been a matter of some controversy since he took office in 2017.

A constant critic of President Barack Obama's golf outings—which unlike Trump Obama did not personally profit from—the 45th POTUS claimed he would be too busy working to ever play golf.

Keep reading...