Why are so few girls taking up Science-related jobs? - Mums NI - A Hub For Parents in Northern Ireland

Why are so few girls taking up Science-related jobs?

Science Starz
Written by Science Starz on Thursday, 21 September 2017 Posted in: Your Kids Education

Why are so few girls taking up Science-related jobs?

A recent study in the Journal of Science found that by age 6, girls are less likely than boys to think members of their own gender can be brilliant. It is well known that women are lacking in science fields, more specifically, women in science, technology, engineering, and math — STEM. Why is this?

Studies have shown there to be several reasons, including:

  1. Lack of encouragement (by teachers and parents). Messages from parents are particularly important, especially so for girls who, in the majority, are less encouraged to pursue maths and maths-based subjects than boys. 

  2. Stereotypes. “Science isn’t feminine.” “Women have less academic success.” “You can’t be a mum and a scientist.” These are all incorrect assumptions that hinder girls and women from achieving greater success in the science field. In order for the stereotype that girls perform worse in STEM to be removed, both girls and boys have to learn that it's not true. Ultimately, girls need to perceive that they have as much to contribute as boys.

  3. Lack of self-confidence due to lack of role models. When women see other women in science, math, technology, and medical fields, they are less likely to associate these fields with masculinity and more likely to have confidence in their own skills. Women who are exposed to successful females in STEM fields are more likely to do well in STEM classes, feel a greater sense of belonging among their STEM classmates and colleagues, and are more likely to have pro-science career aspirations.

While there are other reasons for a lack of women in science, Science Starz aims to address the reasons listed above. Science Starz is an innovative social enterprise in Northern Ireland run by female science enthusiasts who are keen to share their passion for all things science related. They do this by visiting nursery and primary schools, carrying out fun, hands-on science investigations and experiments using all sorts of science equipment. The girls and boys get to put on a lab coat and love feeling like a real scientist for the day. The young girls see the female facilitators as role models and many girls (as well as boys) have commented that they want to do science or be a scientist when they grow up; some girls even want to join the Science Starz team! 

“If we want to change young people’s minds and make things more equitable for girls, we really need to know when this problematic stereotype first emerges, and then we know when to intervene to avoid these negative consequences on girls’ educational decisions and their future career choices,” says lead author Lin Bian, a graduate student in Psychology at the University of Illinois.

The Science Starz aim is to ignite an interest in Science from a very early age. The facilitators visit nursery schools and work with girls and boys from the age of four and because Science Starz are an all-female team, they are leading by example. They are nipping these negative stereotypes in the bud before they have a chance to embed in childrens’ minds. These young children thoroughly enjoy dressing up and role playing. They really believe that when then don a lab coat they are scientists regardless of their gender. 

 


 

Do you have a little scientist at home?

Science Starz want to reach as many children as possible. If you think your child’s nursery or primary school would benefit from science workshops, ask your child’s teacher to email sciencestarz@yahoo.com

Science Starz also works with:

  • Youth clubs
  • Family fun days
  • Birthday parties
Tagged with: helping kids education, kids education, Supplementary education
About the author:
Mums NI Author - Science Starz
Science Starz

Rose McMurrough has over 14 years' experience as a science teacher. She has a BSc (Hons) in Physiology/Pharmacology. Elita Frid has worked in primary school settings for several years and has her MBA.

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