Studies show that women tend to be underrepresented in math and science due to stereotypes and cultural biases, and this week’s report by the National Science Foundation offers insights that can help draw more women to careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. One study at the University of Chicago from earlier this year (January 2010) revealed that women teachers who were anxious about math transmitted that anxiety to some of the girls in their class, and that the girls who subsequently subscribed to the math-is-for-boys stereotype got lower scores on a math test than the girls who didn’t.
The good news is that math skills, like other intellectual pursuits, are not fixed and can grow with practice. Research also indicates that girls who have mothers, older sisters or other female role models who like math and science tend not to succumb to the stereotypes. Starting in the early grade levels, teachers can help students develop patterns of question asking that foster critical and creative thinking. LifeBound’s book, CRITICAL AND CREATIVE THINKING, is coordinated to 21st century skills and offers real-life contemporary and historic examples in each chapter of men and women who excel in the sciences and other innovative fields. Each chapter features exercises, “Thinking on the Cutting Edge,” that prompt student to probe beneath the surface on various topics or issues. Here’s an example from Chapter 4: Knowing about birds’ flying formations (they fly in Vs) what questions can you ask that might save humans time and energy? We follow this exercise with questions posed by scientists and engineers from the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to help students apply the birds’ efficient flying relationship to aircraft. When students become great questions askers, they can begin to see new perspectives on problems, and to move the brain from problem to solution mode, skills that all students need for 21st century work.
How can we do a better job of encouraging girls to strive to do well in math and science?
How can we help match girls with female role models who are in STEM careers?
What resources might help teachers move past these obstacles to help girls reach their full potential?
New York Times
by Tamarin Lewis
A report on the underrepresentation of women in science and math by the American Association of University Women, to be released Monday, found that although women have made gains, stereotypes and cultural biases still impede their success. The report, “Why So Few?,” supported by the National Science Foundation, examined decades of research to cull recommendations for drawing more women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM fields. “We scanned the literature for research with immediate applicability,” said Catherine Hill, the university women’s research director and lead author of the report. “We found a lot of small things can make a difference, like a course in spatial skills for women going into engineering, or teaching children that math ability is not fixed, but grows with effort.”