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Thank you for such a timely

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Thank you for such a timely article! I am a teacher of middle school math where my love for math is definitely not the love the mainstream population has. In the article, Female teachers’ math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement, the authors state that It is definitely perpetuated by people’s fear and anxiety about doing math—over and above actual math ability—can be an impediment to their math achievement (Beilock et al, 2009). This fear often comes from the influence of both parents and teachers especially at an early age. But teachers who in early education who are uncomfortable with math as well as teaching it communicate this discomfort affecting achievement. I agree that we are in need of all hands to create a change in dynamics of girls incorporating and becoming more mathematical and science oriented. Through programs such as Expanding your Horizons, we must provide opportunities for girls to see the advantages while using the applications of math and science.

References
Beilock, S. L., Gunderson, E. A., Ramirez, G., & Levine, S. C. (2009). Female teachers’ math anxiety impacts girls’ math achievement. PNAS, 107(5), 1860–1863.Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/107/5/1860.full.pdf+html

Science Evangelist

This is the trend!

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Sadly this is the trend at most universities. Until universities and faculty members own this issue as 'their' problem and do all they can to change the culture to make the environment more inviting, this trend will continue. There are some schools that are making the change and there are some success stories that point to 'ownership of the issue' as central to making change. (Look at UMBC for example)

in our university around 17%

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in our university around 17% of girls apply to do physics at undergraduate level, followed by a more substantial decline in the numbers moving into permanent academic jobs – only 7.9% of these undergraduates stay on to become senior lecturers and 4% professors.

Science Evangelist

Reply to KJ

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The data shows that the difference is not due to ability to do math and science, but the cause of the gender gap is social and environmental. Girls are bombarded by the negative messages that they cannot do STEM everyday. And, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Part of that is gender discrimination, as you say, where people think women should stay home. I would not call it a lame excuse, I think people just feel powerless and don’t know how to change it. What girls need are positive role models and positive reinforcement that STEM is for them.

If you continue to teach with enthusiasm and keep showing the fun behind science, you are going to give girls permission to be excited about it too. The data shows that girls are more excited about science if they can see the relevancy and can see how it will be applied to help someone. (That is, water purification projects for developing countries and the like.)

It will take lots of force to right this boat, and every bit of force counts. Keep pushing.

Ms. Ramirez, I really enjoyed

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Ms. Ramirez, I really enjoyed reading your article. It is spot on and resonates with me. I have a huge passion for science and am a 5th grade teachers on a team of teachers that rarely crack open their science kits for the year. Out of all the subjects, I find science the easiest (and most fun!) to make engaging since it centers around projects, labs, and demos and involves a lot of hands-on activities and group activities. I also find it quite reasonable to pull in other subjects of learning into my science lesson (especially math and language arts). Before becoming a teacher, it was hard for me to understand why the big gender gap between male and female re: STEM interests and pursuits. But then when I became a teacher, I heard voices around me re-telling the myth that math and science are just harder for females. These voices were from other teachers, students' parents, and sadly, the students themselves. Although society has greatly changed, do you think that part of the reason behind these voices is that women are typically viewed as the ones to stay home and raise a family so they shouldn’t “waste” their time and money with a STEM-associated career? Or, do you think it is simply a lame excuse for females to not have to try as hard in STEM subjects? These attitudes and behaviors, especially in my own school, greatly sadden me and make me want to all the more encourage my students- regardless of their gender, learning ability, personality, background, or preconceived notions- to jump into the world of science and experience how fascinating and addictive it is!

Science Evangelist

Whatever you can do to keep

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Whatever you can do to keep them engaged is best. This might mean project-based lessons or lots of demonstrations. Make sure there is time for students to interact with each other too.

Good luck. We need more teachers like you.

This is such a great article!

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This is such a great article!

I as a former high school student was very involved in science, participating in the state science fair and very interested in the world of science. I was not the best student instead science was my worst subject.

Now six years later, after soul seaching long and hard I have decided to pursue a career in Science education. I have had many role models in the science field including my grandfather and father. My goal is to help students have fun in science. Having fun to understand what is important. I stress that the more engaged I can get the students and the more involvement and fun they have the more they are willing to participate and understand important material.

Do you have any suggestions on things I can do to improve my future classroom? Projects? Different ideas on testing?

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Great post, Ainissa. I wanted

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Great post, Ainissa. I wanted to add some Girls in STEM resources for anyone who might be interested:

Girls In STEM Conference, April 6, 2013, Austin, TX:
http://www.girlstart.org/our-programs/girls-in-stem-conference

National Girls Collaborative Project has a directory with a number of Girls in STEM programs as well.
http://www.ngcproject.org/programs

If anyone has any experience with these or any other Girls in STEM programs, please add a note here!

(Why does a google search for "Maker Girls" yield a bunch of sites about makeovers?! Grr!)

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