Boys and girls enroll in advanced math and sciences classes at equal rates as they move into high school. But a gender gap appears as they get closer to college, with boys enrolling in more advanced STEM courses than girls, according to a recent Edutopia article.
“This gap widens the longer girls are in school and is often compounded by issues of race and class,” according to Carly Berwick, a journalist and English teacher at a STEM magnet school in New Jersey.
The good news? Educators can help close the gap.
“Researchers don’t know yet if these continuing disparities in STEM reflect the slow pace of societal change, child-rearing expectations, or something deeper and more entrenched, such as the way we think about girls’ minds,” Berwick notes. “But teachers can play a significant role in influencing or dispelling stereotypes in STEM education.”
Strategies include ending the practice of tracking students into different courses based on presupposed ability, encouraging co-curricular participation in STEM activities, adapting new forms of assessment, and highlighting diverse STEM role models.
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