Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gender Gap in STEM

Following their 2017 research that examined the reasons why Europe’s girls and young women lose interest in STEM, Microsoft sought to undertake research in the U.S. that would illuminate ways in which policymakers, educators, nonprofits, parents, and communities can support and encourage girls and young women in STEM stateside.

Key findings include:

-       Girls and young women have a hard time picturing themselves in STEM roles. They need more exposure to STEM jobs, female role models, and career awareness and planning.
-       Girls don’t initially see the potential for careers in STEM to be creative or have a positive impact on the world. But even a little exposure to real-world applications of STEM knowledge dramatically changes their outlook.
-       Girls who participate in STEM clubs and activities outside of school are more likely to say they will pursue STEM subjects later in their education. The kinds of experiments and experiences girls are exposed to in these activities can provide insights for how to enhance STEM instruction in the classroom.
-       Encouragement from teachers and parents makes a big difference in girls’ interest in STEM—especially when it comes from both teachers and parents.
-       Educators can foster a “growth mindset” among their female students by tapping into their willingness to work hard for results.

The researchers of this study hope that insights gained from this research will help policymakers, educators, parents and employers like us better understand and overcome the challenges girls and young women face when it comes to pursuing STEM studies and careers.

Kesar, S. (2018). Closing the STEM gap – Why STEM classes and careers still lack girls and what we can do about it. Redmond, WA: Microsoft.

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