Dr. Diane Halpern, Professor of Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described the research behind the IES practice guide Encouraging Girls in Math and Science. The goal of the publication is to provide evidence-based recommendations that educators can use to encourage girls to pursue academic degrees and careers in math and science in greater numbers. There are a number of reasons why educators should address the gender gap in those fields.
The guide suggests five strategies for teachers based on evidence that is rated “low” to “moderate,” depending on the types of research supporting each recommendation:
1. Help students gain more self-confidence by explicitly teaching them that academic abilities are “expandable” and not fixed at birth.
2. Provide students with informational feedback on their performance
3. Expose girls to female role models
4. Foster girls’ interest in math and science through activities that connect math and science to careers in a nonstereotypical way
5. Provide students with spatial skills training
Six women who have distinguished themselves in STEM professions responded to questions posed by moderator Brenda Braxton, KGW Newschannel 8 anchorwoman. The discussion tied the practice guide findings to panelists’ real-world experience:
What doesn’t work for girls in the math and science classroom?
Are there subtle ways in which we give girls the message that they’re not as good in math and science?
How do you change the culture of the math and science disciplines?
Halpern, D.F., Aronson, J., Reimer, N., Simpkins, S., Star, J.R., & Wentzel, K. (2007). Encouraging Girls in Math and Science [IES Practice Guide]. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
Halpern, D.F., Benbow, C.O., Geary, D.C., Gur, R.C., Shibley Hyde, J., & Gernbacher, M.A. (2007). Sex, math, and scientific achievement. Why do men dominate the fields of science, engineering, and mathematics?, Scientific American Mind, 44–51.
Halpern, D.F., Benbow, C.O., Geary, D.C., Gur, R.C., Shibley Hyde, J., & Gernbacher, M.A. (2007). The science of sex differences in science and mathematics. Association for Psychological Science 8(1), 1–51.