According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, women account for less than 30% of the world’s researchers. One could argue that this issue begins in K-12 classrooms across the world. Nations are consistently failing to cultivate and encourage a culture in which women excel in science. According to US News and report girls whom perceive themselves to be good in science perform well in STEM related electives and enroll in math and science degree programs during college. As educators, it’s imperative to encourage girls to remain interested in science while continuously cultivating their critical thinking abilities. Below are some of the recommended strategies for supporting the development of girls in science:
Emphasize that we live in a “scientific world”
Our world is filled with scientific principles and concepts. Allowing girls to see that science is not a difficult “subject” but an explanation of the world will help them realize that they already know much science.
Apply math and science concepts to domestic scenarios
Research has shown girls understand science when it is applied to concepts they are already familiar with. Cooking uses measurements, timing, and reactionary principles. Shopping while using a budget requires mathematical thinking processes. Helping girls make the connection to their everyday activities and science will help them realize their strengths.
Introduce girls to positive female role models
When girls see that there are successful female scientists they are more likely to believe they can excel in fields of their choice as well.
Encourage girls to solve problems. Never give them the answers.
The primary component to scientific thinking is the process in which scientists come to conclusions about the world. By giving girls answers it limits their ability to think critically which prevents them from developing the necessary skills to excel in science.
Universities in the United States are taking heed to the lack of teachers qualified to teach science. The shortage of teachers is not a new concept, but teachers in STEM related fields are even more scarce. In 2014 the National Math and Science Initiative donated $1.45 million dollars to the University of Alabama Birmingham, Drexel University, The University of Maryland- College Park and Oklahoma State University. The shortage of science teachers has been a contributor to the nation’s lack of engineers, computer scientists, and medical doctors. By investing in science educators, the nation hopes to increase the amount of qualified scientists to fill the expected 2.4 million job vacancies in 2018.
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