When do girls opt in?

From: akapur@edc.org
Date: Thu Dec 02 1999 - 09:09:55 EST

Kristina Fowler writes: "There is abundant evidence that
young women begin to make the decision to opt out of science and
mathematics classes early and that the middle school years are critical
times in the lives of young women in terms of their willingness to take
courses that will prepare them to enter mathematics, science, engineering
and related fields in college."

My question to the panel is, When do girls opt into or develop an aptitude
for and/or a positive disposition toward math/science/engineering classes?
My intuition is that for educational purposes the primary years are crucial,
especially for developing interest in the physical sciences. How would girls'
interests and spatial abilities differ if, as a regular part of their elementary
school curriculum, they had frequent & extended experiences with construction
tools & toys; got to take apart and reassemble mechanical and electronic
devices; & had opportunities to engage in inquiry and to develop intuitive and
explicit understandings of forces and motion or principles of design technology?

Is there any research or anecdotal evidence in this direction? Are the
primary years too early to tell?

Ina Mogensen

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