The image above is not an accurate depiction of women in the sciences. When the statistics are examined and looking around the world of science and technology it becomes clear very quickly that there really aren’t a lot of women working as professionals in these fields. In her February 23, 2015 post, “Teaching Science for All: Helping Women Fulfill their Potential”, on the Stanford University Teaching Commons blog Teaching Talk, Mandy McClean points out, “less than one-quarter of bachelors degrees awarded in fields such as computer science, engineering and physics go to women.” And it isn’t due to the number of women enrolled in higher learning. A recent Forbes magazine report notes that males only outnumber females in higher learning nationally by 2 percent and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1998, women have outnumbered men in post-baccalaureate programs.
So what can K-12 teachers do to encourage girls to choose higher education and future careers in the sciences, math and technology?
Here are Three great ways to start!
1. Create a classroom unit with the theme Don’t Know Much about Women in Science. Have students research the life and career of a famous woman scientists. Students can write reports or even create short films to share what they learned. Use these resources to help students begin to find information on women in the sciences:
- Eastern Illinois University’s website, Biographies of Women in Science
- Major Women in Science Series – access via Big Universe
|Shaina Indovino (author)|
|Women have made major contributions to science throughout history, including in the field of engineering. Learn about the lives of some of the most amazing women in engineering, from Grace Hopper to GM executive Grace Lieblein, as well as their exciting and important work. Discover what it takes to be an engineer and find out about the opportunities for women in the field. Read Women in Engineering to see if following in the footsteps of the many brilliant women who have made their mark in engineering is something you want to do.|
2. Science Fiction is the gateway to science! Share science fiction stories to introduce and excite girls (and boys) about technology and scientific exploration. Assign a literary unit devoted to the genre of science fiction. Have students write a book report or perhaps write their own Sci-Fi stories.
- Visit Goodreads.com. “Best Science Fiction Books for Kids” for a list of classic and new sci-fi books that are kid-tested and parent-approved!
3. Make the sciences more visible by hosting Science Week in the classroom, or better yet get the entire school involved! Although the United States does not have one yet, the Senate does support the creation of a National Science Week and also highly recommends the USA Science Festival, a bi-annual event that spotlights science and technology. The next USA Science Festival is scheduled for April 16-17 2016. Visit to the website for more information, classroom resources and even a kit for creating an official affiliate event.
Books on Big Universe
- Science themed blogs: http://blog.biguniverse.com/?s=science
|Jill C. Wheeler (author)|
|In this title, examine the life of imaginative space traveler and medical innovator Mae Jemison. Readers will enjoy digging into Jemison’s personal story, beginning with her childhood in Chicago where she watched Star Trek and conducted dozens of her own science experiments. Students can trace Jemison’s success, from her education at Stanford University and Cornell University to her years volunteering with the Peace Corps, before her acceptance into the NASA space program and flight into space on the Endeavour. Engaging text and photos offer insight on topics such as astronomy, gravity, and biomedical engineering. While a timeline, glossary, and index supplement the text, an entertaining science activity allows readers their own hands-on experience based on the science that inspired this woman’s groundbreaking career. Checkerboard Library is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.|
|Jill C. Wheeler (author)|
|In this title, examine the life of accomplished physics researcher and experimentalist Chien-Shiung Wu. Readers will enjoy digging into Wu’s personal story, beginning with her childhood in China where her father encouraged her curiosity and interest in science. Students can trace Wu’s success from her education at the University of California-Berkeley, where she met physics giants Oppenheimer, Fermi, and Segre, to her secret involvement with the Manhatten Project and her tenure as a researcher and professor at Columbia University. Engaging text and photos offer insight on topics such as nuclear physics, beta decay, and the law of parity. While a timeline, glossary, and index supplement the text, an entertaining science activity allows readers their own hands-on experience based on the science that inspired this woman’s groundbreaking career. Checkerboard Library is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.|
|Tom Riddolls (author)|
|Sally Ride soared into outer space on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983, the youngest astronaut and the first U.S. woman in space. Just 32 years old that year, this California girl was already an accomplished astrophysicist when NASA chose her. Since then, she has written several books introducing young readers to the subject of space exploration and encouraging them to study the sciences.|
http://www.womeninscience.org/ (Radio stories from Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics On the Air, older students)
http://www.wise.iastate.edu/funlinks.html Fun Links For Girls – links to STEM related websites with games and other activities to help students explore science and math. Directed at girls but nearly all the resources can be used for everyone! Iowa State University