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Girl’s Equity in STEM

I just got through reading an article in Edutopia about How Hidden Classroom Dynamics Can Stymie Girls in STEM.  The discussion was related to the “invisible forces that shape classroom culture”.

It isn’t anything different than many of the things we already know except that we are filling in the blanks of the why do girls not enter the Sciences.

A recent large scale study found that girls performed as well as boys on standardized tests and on international tests of science achievement. Why were they not pursuing STEM careers then?  Something was happening after the fact and it wasn’t that girls were chasing boys either (this was what an older study came up with, arghh).

A new study just recently published in the International Journal of Education found that girls seemed to perform better when introduced to hands on projects held outdoors throughout the school year.  The boys performed well when given inside instruction and projects. All students responded better when able to utilize instruction and apply to real world applications (DUH!).

When I took chemistry and surveying in college my grades were not great but my labs were outstanding.  I couldn’t take a test worth anything but I certainly could recreate what I learned when using chemicals or machinery. I strongly believe that students need to work with their hands to learn and solidify their knowledge.

Some students learn differently even when it comes to taking standardized tests.  They found that girls do well on open-ended questions (I never did) and boys on multiple choice; I’ve always wondered if my ability to whiz through multiple choice questions had anything to do with being raised with boys (3 brothers), interesting question.

Students need to be given time to ask questions and work collaboratively to learn instead of being rushed through. If we actually answer their questions of “why do I have to study xyz, I’ll never use it”, then maybe they may be more interested in the subject knowing the real world applications.

I never pursued my love of civil engineering in school but not because I thought I was not qualified; I just wasn’t ready to push through the glass ceiling of that male oriented world.  Later on in life I worked with male programmers with minimal problems.  I believe that this is still a factor as to why women don’t enter STEM; they do not get recognized and have to fight for their success.  When will we stop short-changing people regardless of who they are.  Shouldn’t it be about a person’s skills and ability to do the job?

This article is a good read.  What do you think?

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