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Addressing the Gender Gap in STEM Subjects
“Gender gaps in STEM subjects persist today despite gains made by female students in education and athletics during the 40 years since Title IX was signed into law.”
With the ever increasing attention on STEM education we are all well informed that STEM subjects continue to be a challenge for educators and that there is a wide gender gap when it comes to studying and excelling in STEM fields. Government, businesses and schools are starting to collaborate on solutions to these two barriers.
“Long before women pick a college major or enter the workforce, their K-12 education sets the stage in level of interest, confidence, and achievement in STEM” (CS Monitor). It is this time during their academic careers that educators needs to capture the attention of women. If we can plant the seed of knowledge and show girls that they have the potential to excel in these fields, a spark of passion will be ignited.
Broadly speaking women have made great strides in education. “The days when girls were told blatantly that they can’t take advanced math are over. … But there are still challenges to equity.” – Lara S. Kaufmann, a senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington.
The AP and the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams given nationally to students provides us with a glimpse into the gender gap that is still plaguing STEM subjects.
“For the class of 2011, boys dominated the computer-science course, representing 80 percent of test-takers, as well as the three AP physics courses. Boys accounted for 77 percent of those taking the physics exam for electricity and magnetism and 74 percent of mechanics exams. Also, 59 percent of those taking Calculus BC, the more advanced of two AP courses offered in the subject, were male.” (CS Monitor)
This gender inequality is something that needs to be studied. What is the exact point or level of education in which girls shy away from science, technology, engineering and math while boys embrace these subjects? Many STEM advocates and leaders believe that government, business and schools can only go so far with their influence and that greater social change is required.
A statistic from the “Girls in science: Gender gaps still persist in STEM subjects” article that piqued our interested (because we are an engineering firm) was, “Recent federal data show just one-quarter of people working in STEM fields are women; one in seven engineers is female” (CS Monitor).
The current economic and industry demands are shifting in our society, it is now more imperative than ever to get girls not only interested in STEM subjects but to encourage them to pursue careers in these fields. If we do not get more STEM majors graduating college and into careers, the United States will soon be facing a very large workforce shortage.
Click here to read the article, “Girls in science: Gender gaps still persist in STEM subjects”.
How are you helping close the gender gap in STEM education and encouraging students to follow their passion into STEM careers? Please share!