In 2011, a University of Washington study concluded that by age seven, both girls and boys associate math more with boys than with girls.
In other words … Houston, we have a problem.
Seven-year-olds are in first and second grade. Have you checked with your young girls lately to see if they already think they aren’t as ‘good at’ math and science as boys?
Here at The Great Adventure Lab, our founder and many of our instructors are parents of elementary school-age girls. Just about all of us have young girls in our families.
GrAd Lab instructors noticed – it wasn’t hard- that with few exceptions, the boys in our classes outnumber the girls usually by at least 2 to 1, across the spectrum of classes we offer, from our most advanced robotics class (Mindstorms) right down to Storybook Science, which is for kindergarteners and first graders. And in some classes, there are NO girls.
Let’s think about this:
Half of elementary school students are girls.
If class sign-ups were proceeding randomly, half of the students in our science enrichment programs would be girls. That’s not the case, which means that sign-ups aren’t proceeding randomly, which means that something is discouraging girls from signing up from our classes.
Many studies have attempted to identify that something. Their conclusions usually point to gender stereotypes that are echoed by pop culture, and often family members an teachers into girls’ homes and classrooms. These cultural stereotypes might be as obvious as a pretty-princess costume for a girl versus a doctor’s costume for a boy … or as subtle as a well-meaning teacher “rescuing” a girl by rushing to her side with an answer, while allowing boys more time to work out the same problems.
We want to do our part to reverse this trend.
We started in fall of 2011 by getting one of the area’s leading experts in girls issues to give a presentation to our instructors on different strategies for teaching girls and boys.
Then we launched a new series of evening events called Girls Get Science. These events feature a panel of women scientists and engineers!
We look forward to meeting you and your daughter at our next event!