Girls, Math and Science…Enough said! Tips on How to Encourage
Girls in Math and Science
Author: Brenda Rufener
Statistics show that tween and teen girls start losing interest in math and science unless they are encouraged to believe in themselves at a young age. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes still exist. Parents tote their daughters past museum exhibits on space and engineering to areas focused on bubbles and butterflies.
It’s not only the parents, who are subject to stereotype promotion, but teachers are guilty too. One middle school math teacher at a private Catholic school in Bellevue, Washington, reported that it’s easy to call on the boys in class because they are the ones with their hands up.
Why Are Girls Avoiding Math and Science?
Girls, oftentimes, aren’t willing to take risks. Nine times out of ten boys answer the math and science questions in class, while the girls tend to hide.
In 2010, a report published by the American Association of University Women, entitled “Why So Few?” revealed that math and science stereotypes start as early as elementary age. Worm and beetle labs are not as popular among girls as they are boys, partly because biases have been passed from parent to child.
How Can Parents Encourage Girls in Math and Science?
As parents, we can help to fight the negative stereotype and teach girls to do the same. Encourage exposure to math and science by placing them in classes that challenge, camps that provide hands-on activities, and studies that showcase women in powerful scientific platforms.
Girls who don’t want to fight the negative stereotype will shy away from math and science. But with encouragement and support, girls learn to believe that they can do anything boys can do.
One of the best ways to encourage girls in math and science is to find a mentor in the field of study. Math and science mentors are female role models who have excelled in the field.
Parents can also serve as role models, whether they have a science background or not. A parent should never tell their child they “can’t do math” or “hate science”. Instead, cultivate interesting discussions about science and promote scientific inquiry.
It is critical for girls to know that they can do anything. Like most studies, math and science are not always easy. Hard work and discipline are skills that any child should learn. Girls must understand that they don’t have to be perfect in math; they simply must be willing to work and develop analytical skills that make them successful in their studies.
Helpful tips to encourage girls in math and science:
- Find female role models for your girls
- Talk to you children about gender stereotypes
- Expose your kids to science museums
- Teach children that it’s more than talent, but hard work that helps them learn
A little motivation and encouragement goes a long way. Within the next decade, we should see more girls participating in math related activities and pursuing science career paths, as long as we do our part to esteem them a long the way.
Do you have any tips that you can share in encouraging girls in math and science? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.