Has science education become a male dominated field? ... Possibly a silly question.
No Boys Allowed!
After experiences teaching science the past 6 years of my career in 3rd grade, 5th grade, and an 8th grade class, I have seen a large decline of scientific interest in my female students. The middle school science classrooms are largely dominated by male students during discussion, presentations, and hand-on activities while the females shift into a role of doing the minimum in order to succeed academically. Somewhere between the early years of elementary to late years of high school education, girls have become disinterested in the science curriculum leaving it a male dominated field in college and the professional world beyond.
I conducted a small (All female science class) research project in which I analyzed my 5th grade students’ interests, learning styles, gender role beliefs, learning history, and academic scores to see if a single sex classroom develops higher interest, participation, and achievement in science for girls. The following are some of the results along with best practices for teachers to utilize and create a science curriculum that female students crave.
Please feel free to contact me at Scientist@atlantascience.com or post a comment below if any questions or comments arise about the my research. If you would like a Powerpoint that includes this information and literature references, please contact me by email or through AtlantaScience.com.
- Only 14% of girls had science learning toys at home compared to 85% of the boys
- 79% of the female students preferred the all female science classroom (citing different reasons)
- 86% of female students claimed they were more interested in science after their experience with an all female class (citing different reasons)
- Only one student that preferred a mixed gender classroom had a reason that it was educational benefit
-"...boys can also find interesting things." (talking about inquiry/discovery lessons)
- After the unit, Science became female students favorite subject over 2. Math, 3. Reading, 4. Writing, 5. Social Studies
-Science was 3rd favorite prior to all female class unit
- Gender roles in science class that were viewed as "male roles" changed to more male/female shared roles
- females took more control of male dominated roles
- 57% of girls in the study stated they would be more likely to consider a science career after the unit
- There was no change in academic performance (all girls had an "A" average prior to the unit and they maintained it)
Applications to Teaching:
- Female students desired hands-on/inquiry lessons
-They enjoyed technology incorporated in their learning (internet)
-They liked incorporating writing with science
-Students liked learning about real world applications to their work
-Females stated that they felt like learning wasn't interrupted because of boys
-Female students stated that they learned easier because they were not teased by boys
Further questions I had after research:
-If girls are more interested in science in a single gender setting, why do we put them in mixed?
-Is it due to the academics/behavior of an all boy classroom?
-Should schools give parents and students a choice of single sex or mixed classrooms?
-Which model benefits the boys?
-Will girls be more assertive in a mixed gender class or become withdrawn and overshadowed again by the boys?