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Science FAQ

Overview


The world economy is becoming increasingly knowledge-based and technology-dependent in many ways, making mathematics, science, engineering, and technology even more critical to the future of American students. Yet according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), more than 50 percent of all students plan to drop advanced math and science courses, regardless of their career interests and without knowing the consequences. As women progress through school and into college and graduate school, they drop out of mathematics, science, and/or technology earlier than males do.

Math, science, engineering, and technology are particularly important for women, who historically have been underrepresented in these fields. To generalize broadly, in the early elementary years girls and boys do equally well in tests and grades in mathematics, science, and technology. As females progress through school and into college and graduate school, however, despite their frequently higher course grades they score lower on standardized tests and take fewer advanced courses than males do.

At all levels of education, educators equipped with the proper knowledge and tools must inspire their students to build a strong technical foundation so that graduates of the nation's educational system can ultimately replenish and enhance the technological workforce. To help you work toward that goal, this packet is designed to provide basic information about gender equity in relation to science education and contains the following items:

For any additional information or assistance such as recommendations, resources, technical assistance, or training, call the WEEA Equity Resource Center's hotline at 1-800-225-3088 or visit our website at www.edc.org/WomensEquity

Gender Equity in Science Fact Sheet


Over the past two decades, female students have begun to close the gender gap in certain areas of science education. For example, the number and variety of courses they take in high school have increased. More girls are taking algebra 1 and geometry today than in 1990. Enrollment in these courses by the ninth and tenth grades is seen as a major predictor of whether a student will continue to college. In college too, young women today are majoring in math and science-related fields at a higher rate than a decade ago. National data indicate that female students consistently earn either equivalent or higher grades than their male counterparts in all points of their academic careers.

Amid this good news, though, obstacles to the increasing participation of women and girls in math, science, engineering, and technology remain. A 1998 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), synthesizing the research and reviewing issues of historic concern for girls, found that the following trends could maintain gender gaps into the future: demographic changes leading to more pronounced gaps among girls based on racial, ethnic, economic, and regional differences, even as the gaps between boys and girls on the whole diminish; the emergence of twenty-first century industries, such as computer science, biotechnology, and environmental science, for which girls may be unprepared; teacher preparation programs giving insufficient focus to gender-equity issues; and educational reform efforts, such as home schooling and charter schools, that could affect various groups of students differently.

A large body of research now documents girls' declining interest and enrollment in math and science classes. Further, the studies identify the urgent need to focus on increasing girls' continuing enrollment and achievement in these fields and to support their entrance into and persistence in careers that demand a scientific and mathematical preparation. Much of this research has pointed to gender and race inequalities in classrooms in general, and the gender bias of math and science curricula and instruction in particular. As Betty Vetter has observed, teacher behavior partly explains the problem of the lack of interest in mathematics and science among girls. Iris Weiss found that K-8 teachers, almost all women, tend to suffer from inadequate science preparation. They fear teaching it, lack confidence in their ability to do so effectively, and thus provide unfortunate role models. Thus, improved teaching would help, particularly to the extent that teachers encourage girls and act as role models and mentors.

There are many pitfalls in presenting a statistical portrait of the current status of equity in science. Examining the achievement gap between the genders as if each were a homogeneous group hides other significant differences. For example, because white girls outnumber those from other racial and ethnic groups, data not disaggregated by race mask some girls' strengths. Only recently has such information begun to become available. Examination of the same data by both race and gender illuminates important differences. For example, in fourth grade, Hispanic girls score higher than Hispanic boys in reading and history; by the eighth grade, they score higher in mathematics and reading; and by the twelfth grade, they score higher than Hispanic boys in science as well as reading. Similarly, African American girls demonstrate academic strengths at every assessment point.

K-12 Education

  • In the early elementary years girls and boys do equally well in tests and grades in mathematics, science, and technology.
  • As female students progress through school and into college and graduate school, despite their frequently higher course grades they score lower on standardized tests than males do and take fewer advanced courses, which means that they drop out of mathematics, science, and/or technology earlier than males do.
  • Girls in high school today take a greater number and variety of math and science courses, for example, more girls are taking algebra 1 and geometry today than in 1990. In college too, young women are majoring in math and science-related fields at a higher rate than a decade ago. National data indicate that girls consistently earn either equivalent or higher grades than boys in all points of their academic careers.
  • Female students tend to score lower than male students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment at ages nine, thirteen, and seventeen. Although the differences are small (from 1 to 3 percent lower), they are statistically significant and have been persistent since 1970. The gap is also greatest at age seventeen.
  • A gap in the career aspirations of boys and girls in science or engineering exists as early as eighth grade. While high school seniors of both genders are equally likely to look to a career in science or mathematics, male seniors are much more likely than their female counterparts to expect a career in engineering.
  • A 1998 AAUW report synthesizing the research and reviewing issues of historic concern for girls found several trends that could maintain gender gaps into the future: demographic changes leading to more pronounced gaps among girls based on racial, ethnic, economic, and regional differences, even as the gaps between boys and girls on the whole diminish; the emergence of twenty-first century industries, such as computer science, bio-technology, and environmental science, for which girls may be unprepared; and teacher preparation programs giving insufficient focus to gender-equity issues.
  • A greater percentage of female high school graduates take science courses today. Girls are more likely than their male counterparts to take both biology and chemistry, and roughly equal proportions of girls and boys enroll in engineering and geology. Physics, however, remains a largely male domain; while more girls enroll today than in 1990, the gender gap here is sizable.

Postsecondary Education

  • The proportion of women who received undergraduate degrees in science and engineering (45 percent in 1993) remains smaller than the proportion who earned degrees in all other fields (58 percent).
  • Within the sciences, the field with the highest share of bachelor's degrees awarded to women in 1998 was psychology (73 percent). Women also earned 68 percent of the baccalaureates in sociology and just over half (52 percent)of the baccalaureates in biological sciences.
  • Engineering continues to be one of the least popular fields for women. In 1994, women earned 16 percent of all baccalaureates in engineering. The proportion of undergraduate degrees in engineering awarded to white women was 11.1 percent; Asian/Pacific Islander women accounted for 2 percent; African American women for 1.4 percent; Latinas for 0.7 percent; and American Indian women for 0.06 percent.
  • In most science and engineering fields, women earned a higher proportion of bachelor's degrees in 1993 than they did in 1983. In three fields, however-computer science, economics, and sociology-women's share of bachelor's degrees has decreased since 1983.
  • Among first-year students planning science or engineering majors in 1994, women's grades were found to be higher than men's-47 percent of women and 43 percent of men had average grades of A in high school.
  • According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), "the proportion of males intending to major in natural sciences and engineering was significantly higher in all racial/ethnic groups than the proportion of females intending to major in these subjects. For instance, the proportion of males intending to major in natural sciences/engineering ranged from 28 percent for American Indian and Puerto Rican males to 37 percent for Asian males. For females, however, the proportion intending to study natural sciences/engineering was much lower, ranging from 12 percent for Mexican Americans to 16 percent for Asians."
  • Students with disabilities are as likely to choose science and engineering majors as they are to choose other majors. Students with disabilities constituted an average of 9 percent of first-year students with planned majors in science and engineering fields: physical sciences (10 percent), social sciences (10 percent), and engineering (8 percent). Students with disabilities earned about 1 percent (329) of doctorates in science and engineering in 1993.

Employment Outcomes

  • Women represent 22 percent of the science and engineering labor force, and within science and engineering women are more strongly represented in some fields than in others. More than half of sociologists and psychologists are women, compared with only 9 percent of physicists and 8 percent of engineers.
  • Women make up 44 percent of academic faculty overall, but only 24 percent of faculty in science and engineering.
  • A study prepared by the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology found that the glass ceiling for women scientists remains "firmly in place" in both academia and industry. Betty Vetter, chair of the Washington-based commission, concludes that in the scientific workforce, "relative to men with similar credentials and experience levels, women in all of the sciences earn lower salaries, experience higher unemployment rates, are more likely to be employed in temporary positions, and find fewer and slower opportunities to advance, either in rank or toward management, or to obtain security in the form of tenure."

International Snapshot

The "Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge," which was finalized at the World Conference on Science in July 1999, stated: "The sciences should be at the service of humanity as a whole, and should contribute to providing everyone with a deeper understanding of nature and society, a better quality of life and a sustainable and healthy environment for present and future generations."

A report of the gender panel at the Conference noted some key gender issues:

  • In many countries, especially in Africa, fewer girls than boys have access to primary education, and of those children who do have access, fewer girls than boys learn about science.

  • In many countries fewer girls than boys study scientific and technological subjects in either secondary or tertiary education.
  • In many countries fewer women than men pursue scientific or technological careers, and far fewer reach the top professional, managerial, or policy-making positions.
  • Technological change, especially that designed to improve the quality of life in rural areas in developing countries, has focused more on the tasks that men perform than on those that women perform, both inside and outside the household. Development programs frequently have not taken this gender dimension into account. Men and women are repositories of different components of indigenous knowledge.

The report also noted the need for a major campaign, organized by UNESCO and UNIFEM, to alert policymakers, educators, and parents in all countries to the critical importance of gender and science.

And finally, the need for networks of support for women in science, both nationally and internationally, has been raised at the World Conference and elsewhere.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Science and Equity


Why is it important to attract girls to science and mathematics?

As we turn the corner to a new century, sophisticated technology is increasingly significant to our nation's economic, political and social health. Almost every element of society-fields as diverse as music, sports and agriculture-are being touched by technology. To prepare for these jobs, we must present science, engineering and mathematics as unintimidating to every student, so that they will feel encouraged to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for technical careers. As part of the global economy, we must engage the intellectual potential of all our young people. The ways of doing science and engineering are changing. Teamwork and project management are transforming the workings of science from a competitive and hierarchical style to one that's more collaborative. Often considered a "female" style of working, collaboration generates a more synergistic effort that results in more ideas and possible solutions. The inclusion of more women will greatly benefit the fields of science and engineering as their diverse intellectual and problem-solving skills are integrated into the workings of a vast array of enterprises. We cannot afford to overlook so much of our nation's intellectual potential.

Are boys and girls equally capable of doing science?
Research shows that girls and boys have similar mathematics and science proficiency scores at age nine. However, as girls enter middle school, a gender gap begins to develop. Girls' grades in math and science begin to plummet, and girls become progressively less likely to take elective courses in these subjects. This downward spiral is especially severe for girls of color, girls with disabilities, girls living in poverty, and girls who are learning English as a new language. Work done by the WEEA Equity Resource Center and the New England Comprehensive Assistance Center has continued to show that female students' success in math and science has less to do with their innate abilities than with the ways in which educators create environments, structure classroom interactions, and provide appropriate learning experiences. Such experiences support equal expectations of excellence for both girls and boys, while at the same time valuing the different ways of knowing that each gender brings into the classroom. WEEA's work has also shown that gender can't really be separated from race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or ability/disability.

What are the benefits of a career in science?
Despite persistent inequities in pay, science and engineering careers generally provide a higher income than many of the traditional fields in which women work. As society embraces more technology, opportunities for employment will exponentially increase. The enormous range of careers - from DNA researcher to wildlife biologist to computer scientist - offers women a challenging scope of work with potential for enormous satisfaction. The new "teamwork" style of project development creates a work environment in which women excel. The ever-increasing option of telecommuting enables women to more fully combine family and a career. Although women still earn 69 cents on a dollar compared to men. But when a woman has eight or more college-level math credits, this differential decreases or disappears altogether.

Why do girls lose interest in science in middle school?
Girls' decline in interest begins in middle school for two interdependent reasons. One has to do with the stages of social development of young girls. As they enter puberty, the girls' sense of self-who they are and how others see them-becomes developmentally salient. Middle school girls are concerned about fitting in; what others think of them, especially their peers, becomes a consuming passion. For many, the prospect of being seen as smart in math and science, a "nerd," and therefore not attractive to boys discourages them from excelling academically, especially in areas that are seen as the boys' domain. The second reason, which underscores the first, has to do with the expectations of adults and society in general regarding appropriate activities for girls and boys. In our society, these gender-based expectations become more pronounced in the middle school years as issues of identity-both individual and social-come to the fore. Although societal expectations about gender and other social characteristics have begun to change, or at least to be questioned, the prevailing view of gender-appropriate achievement in schools often constitutes a "hidden curriculum" that supports gender-biased behavior.

What can teachers do to reverse this trend?
As professionals responsible for math and science education in the middle schools, we can act to reverse this trend. We need to analyze the hidden curriculum in the classrooms to see whether it impedes girls from having equitable options. We need to examine whether teachers are unconsciously tracking girls into traditionally "female" academic, career, and life choices. We should work together to raise awareness of these issues, create new norms and expectations, and redefine both the formal and hidden curricula in classrooms and schools so that they explicitly encourage and support girls' success in math and science. The intent is not to push girls into choosing careers in math and science, but rather to give them the necessary foundation in these subjects so that as they begin to make career choices, they will not have already closed some doors because of negative stereotypes or assumptions that "math or science is not for me." The intent is to develop in girls the skills and critical thinking approaches of math and science education that are the cornerstone of full, creative, and productive lives in today's world.

How much would improved teaching affect girls' interest in science?
We must always keep in mind the extent to which improved teaching and more suitable curricula can counteract the other influences in girls' lives in middle school. Some influences are very powerful, because they are inextricably bound up with the girls' back-grounds, including the schools they attend, the families they are a part of, and what they see and hear in the surrounding culture. Research indicates that girls resist science because it isn't "feminine" and consistently underestimate their ability to achieve good grades in math and science. They also lack self-confidence, and they have few role models to encourage them to overcome their self-doubt.

How important are role models?
Because of the small numbers of female science teachers and the lack of women scientists represented in textbooks, exposure to a variety of role models enables girls to imagine themselves in a career in science. One approach has been to invite women scientists as guest speakers or teachers in science classrooms. In one study, conducted in middle and junior high grades, women scientists were brought in as part of the classes' science instruction. Within just a two month time period, students developed a more positive atti-tude toward scientists and specifically women scientists. Women scientists speaking before student groups, at career fairs and other events can respond to questions and encourage girls interested in careers in science. Even programs like "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" offer girls the chance to see firsthand what it would be like to hold a job in a scientific field.

Where do I find a mentor?
If you choose to find a mentor, you must take the initiative. Ask a professor or teacher that you particularly admire. Also, look for mentors beyond your own institution. Write or call organizations that represent a field you are interested in, and ask for names of people who would be willing to be mentors. Most often women in the field are more than willing to talk with you about your interests in science.

What is the family's role in supporting girls' interest in science?
One of the most important determinants in shaping a girl's self-concept with respect to science is her family's attitudes toward this subject. Research has shown that girls tend to respond more than boys do to parental expectations, while at the same time these expectations are lower for girls than for boys when it comes to math and science.

What are some ways in which parents can become more involved in encouraging their daughter's interest in science?
To understand parental involvement in education and its impact on student achievement, it is important to distinguish among the various kinds of roles that parents can play in regard to their children's education: (1) partners, (2) collaborators and problem solvers, (3) audience members, (4) supporters, and (5) advisers and/or decision makers.

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WEEA Resources


The WEEA Digest

The WEEA Digest is a free field-based journal of cutting-edge discussions about educational theory and research. It addresses a wide variety of educational topics from the perspective of equity and includes lists of recommended practical resources. See the WEEA website at www.edc.org/WomensEquity for a complete collection of issues or call the WEEA Equity Resource Center at 1-800-225-3088 to order print copies. The issue on science, "Becoming A Scientist" is included in this packet. Past issues include topics such as math and computers.

Engaging Middle School Girls in Math and Science On-line Course

On-line course provided by the WEEA Equity Resource Center. Contact the WEEA Equity Resource Center for more information: 800-225-3088.

WEEA Publications

To order any of the following publications, call our order line at
800-793-5076.

Encouraging Girls in Math and Science Series
For math and science educators, parents, and community programs. Many talented and interested girls still need encouragement to pursue math, science, and engineering. These pamphlets open the doors of opportunity to these fields for girls by translating current research into practical suggestions and concrete action steps.

Math, Science, and Your Daughter: What Can Parents Do? (also available in Spanish) helps parents encour-age their daughters in math and science and overcome the barriers of sex discrimination by learning about the roles women play in science. Working Together, Making Changes: Working in and out of School to Encourage Girls in Math and Science addresses school staff and special program staff about the importance of working together to provide the highest level of success for girls. Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Designing Effective Programs for Girls in Math, Science, and Engineering talks to schools and community programs about good program development that interests more girls in math and science. Covering the why, the what, and some of the how of program evaluation, What Works and What Doesn't? Ways to Evaluate Programs for Girls in Math, Science, and Engineering helps schools and program directors use evaluation effectively. By Dr. Patricia B. Campbell 1992#2738$18.00

Lifting the Barriers: 600 Strategies That Really Work to Increase Girls' Participation in Science, Mathematics, and Computers
For K-12 teachers.
This book contains hundreds of teacher-friendly and teacher-tested strategies for successfully involving girls in math, science, and technology. Based on the experiences of 200 K-12 educators from every state in the country, the strategies range from the simple to the complex and from the obvious to the ingenious. By Jo Sanders (111pp.) 1994#2809$13.95

Math and Science for the Coed Classroom
For math and science teachers, administrators, coun-selors, parents, and community programs.

How do we ensure that all students-girls and boys-are engaged learners in our math and science classes? This informative pamphlet set from a national expert in the field of equity in mathematics, science, and engineer-ing offers practical information that will help in assessing the school and classroom climate and in creating change. The four pamphlet titles are:

  • Teacher Strategies That Work for Girls and Boys.
  • Girls Are . . . Boys Are . . . : Myths, Stereotypes, and Gender Differences
  • Whose Responsibility Is It? The Role of Administrators and Counselors
  • Why Me? Why My Classroom? Equity in Coed Math and Science Classes

By Dr. Patricia B. Campbell and Jennifer N. Storo 1996#2767(sampler set of 4, each pamphlet 8 pp.)$6.00

Science EQUALS Success
For middle through early secondary school science teachers.

Research has shown that females and people of color are underrepresented in science-related careers. Science EQUALS Success builds on the "fun" of science, motivating girls and students of color during middle and secondary school-a critical period when many lose interest in math and science. "Science EQUALS Success describes hands-on science activities based on processes identified by the EQUALS Program for helping women and minorities succeed in mathematics." -Education Week. Activities are designed to supplement existing programs, so teachers may pick and choose the activities that are most appropriate to integrate into their science classes. Each activity can also stand alone.

More than thirty hands-on, discovery-oriented science activities have been designed especially for girls and students of color, field-tested by classroom teachers, and revised based on their experience. The program's processes have been identified by the nationally recognized EQUALS Program as particularly successful with or needed by girls and students of color. By Dr. C. R. Conwell and C. Equals (118 pp.) 1990$25.00

Spatial Encounters: Exercises in Spatial Awareness
For K-12 and adults.

Spatial Encounters provides a fun, comprehensive set of exercises to build the spatial orientation and visualization skills needed in math, science, and technology. Useful in technical preparation and applied academic courses, the exercises show ways that the skills might be applied in math, geography, acoustics, landscape architecture, and telecommunications. The exercises also can be fun "rainy day" puzzles. Easy directions simplify classroom and self-directed use. By Dr. Peggy Blackwell, University of New Mex-ico (338 pp.) 1982$40.00

Additional Resources

Advancing Standards for Science and Mathematics Education: Views From the Field (1999)
This publication centers on a variety of areas that influence and are influenced by the development and implementation of content standards. Experts in the fields of assessment, equity, technology, educational policy, public opinion, teacher education, and literacy offer their perspectives. Edited by Kathy Comfort, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC, (202) 326-6454, http://ehrweb.aaas.org/ehr/forum/

American Women in Science 1950 to the Present : A Biographical Dictionary (1998)
From naturalist Diane Ackerman to aerospace engineer Susan Wu, each of the some 300 biographical entries in this publication includes information on the female scientist's background, employment history, honors, and publications. Accompanying essays place the women's achievements in social and scientific context. (455 pp.) By Martha J. Bailey, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, (800) 368-6868, sales@abc-clio.com, www.abc-clio.com

Bringing Native American Perspectives to Mathematics and Science Teaching (1995)
The author identifies some of the sources contributing to American Indian students' lack of success at completing mathematics and science courses that would prepare them for scientific and technical careers. (12 pp. ) By Sharon Nelson-Barber and Elise Trumbell Estrin, Theory into Practice 34, No. 3, Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH, (800) 437-443, www.ohiostatepress.org

Creating Tomorrow's Scientist: Models of Community Mentoring (1999)
The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) has published a new guide to establishing and improving mentoring programs for undergraduate and graduate students in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Creating Tomorrow's Scientists is based on the AWIS Mentoring Project, recipient of the 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. This publication provides information on: the rationale for mentoring; the basic design of the AWIS Mentoring Project; the program design at each of the 12 mentoring sites in 1995, demonstrating the diverse applications of the common elements with additional advice from the program coordinators; participant feedback based on final evaluations completed by mentors and mentees; recommendations for mentoring program coordinators/participants based on 7 years of experience; and additional resources which address the top concerns of women scientists. Association for Women in Science, Washington, DC, (202) 326-8940, www.awis.org

2000 Directory of Practitioners: Role Models for Young Women (2000)
This directory is a compilation of practitioners located throughout Oregon and southern Washington state who use science, mathematics, or technology in their professions. A resource for students, teachers, parents, and community volunteers to encourage and facilitate the exploration of science- and math-related careers by young women. It contains detailed entries alphabetically by practitioner's name, followed by city, occupation, and ethnicity. (201 pp.) Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Portland, OR: Saturday Academy, (503) 748-1504, www.awsem.org

Equity in the Future Tense: Redefining Relationships Among Teachers, Students, and Science in Linguistic Minority Classrooms
In order for language minority students to have equal opportunity in studying science, the authors contend that science practice in schools must change significantly. Teachers are crucial players in effecting such change. This paper proposes a new approach to teacher development in science and, through a case study, examines one teacher's learning experience in science. By Beth Warren, and Ann S. Rosebery, TERC/Communications, Cambridge, MA, (617) 547-0430, www.terc.edu

Equity Materials in Mathematics, Science, and Technology: A Resource Guide (1995)
The goal of the guide is to make educators aware of the wide variety of publications that relate to equity in mathematics, science, and technology education. It provides a representative sample of print and video materials selected by the Resource Center at Rutgers Consortium of Educational Equity. All materials listed are available for borrowing from the resource center. The guide also includes monographs, newsletters, videotapes, films, and resources for career information, as well as a description of equity materials at the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education and ways to access them. Each entry is annotated briefly as to content, format, and grade level (where applicable). (41 pp.) By Marilyn A. Hulme, Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education, Philadelphia, PA, (215) 574-9300, www.rbs.org/ec.nsf

Feminism and Science (1996)
Over the past fifteen years, feminist theory has raised a number of important questions about the content, practice, and traditional goals of science. This publication brings together seventeen outstanding articles, reflections of the diversity and strengths of current feminist thinking about science. (298 pp.) Edited by Evelyn Fox Keller and Helen E. Longino, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, (212) 726-6000, www.oup-usa.org

IQ: Women and Girls in Science, Math and Engineering (2000)
This publication considers the experiences of women in the sciences today. IQ: Women and Science presents an overview of recent debates, funding, and the opportunities and obstacles faced by girls and women in various scientific fields. National Council for Research on Women, New York, NY (212) 785-7335, www.ncrw.org

In Touch with Girls and Science (1995)
In both Spanish and English, this publication includes hands-on activities designed to spark girls' interest in science and mathematics. It includes mentoring tips, suggestions for motivating girls, references, and resource lists. This resource originated in the national Girls and Science Link Up with the Future project funded by the National Science Foundation. (182 pp.) Edited by Margaret E. Tunstall and Marsha Lakes Matyas, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC, (202) 326-6454, www.aaas.org

Multicultural Women of Science
This resource contains 37 stories, hands on experiments and ready-made classroom activities. The women featured are chemists and doctors, astronauts and astronomers who are role models young people can iden-tify with for the 21st century. (176 pp.) National Women's History Project, Windsor, CA (707) 838-6000, www.nwhp.org

Science for All Educators: A Guide for Florida's Teacher Educators (1995)
This guide offers a framework for the preparation and development of science teachers and provides a structural path for those who will implement Science for All Students: The Florida Pre K-12 Science Curriculum Framework in Florida schools. It was funded by the National Eisenhower Title II Program, the Florida Science Framework Projects, which have produced these documents, have involved hundreds of science educators and business and community stakeholders. (40 pp.) Florida State Department of Education, Tallahasee, FL (850) 488-8652, www.firn.edu/doe/doehome.htm

Space for All: Careers in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Science for Students with Disabilities
Encourages students with disabilities to pursue science and engineering careers. Reveals nationwide NASA installation career opportunities through profiles of 17 NASA employees, role models for disabled youth. (20 pp.) American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC (202) 326-6454, www.aaas.org

State Curriculum Frameworks in Mathematics and Science: How Are They Changing Across the States? (1995)
This publication includes a segment on equity in the curriculum, an area identified as a key element in analyzing state frameworks. The main equity issue in mathematics and science curricula, largely not addressed in state frameworks, is the substantial differences in the content that is actually taught to all students and how the curriculum differs by the race/ethnicity or gender of students. (131 pp.) By Rolf K. Blank and Ellen M. Pechman, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington, DC, (202) 408-5505, www.ccsso.org

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities (1998)
While scientists and engineers are a more diverse group than they used to be, progress in opening the doors has not been uniform. This report examines the high end of education-graduate students and professors-as well as the rest of the continuum-students in elementary, middle, and high schools and on into college. (403 pp.) National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA, (703) 306-1600, www.nsf.gov

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Additional Resource Organizations


Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (AWSEM)
Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology (OGI), 20000 NW Walker Road, Beaverton, OR 97006; (503) 748-1277, www.awsem.org

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Directorate for Education and Human Resources, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 326-6670, www.aaas.org

American Association of University Women
1111 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005, (800) 326-AAUW, www.aauw.org

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
1630 30th Street, Suite 301, Boulder, CO 80301-1014; (303) 939-0023. www.aises.org

Association for Women in Science (AWIS) 
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 326-8940. www.awis.org

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005-3516; (202) 783-7200. www.astc.org

Current Students/Future Scientists and Engineers Program (CS/FSE)
Clark Science Center, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063; (413) 585-3804. www.smith.edu

EQUALS
Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-5200; (510) 642-1823, http://equals.lhs.berkeley.edu/equals.html

ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education
1929 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1079; (614) 292-7784. www.ericse.org

Girls Count
225 East 16th Ave., Suite 475, Denver, CO 80203; (303) 832-6600, www.girlscount.org

Girls Inc.
30 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016-5394; (212) 689-3700, www.girlsinc.org

Girls and Women in Science
Beloit College 700 College St. Beloit, WI 53511, (608)363-2784, www.beloit.edu/~gwsci/gws.html

Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education Research for Better Schools
444 N. Third Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19123; (215) 574-9300. www.rbs.org/eisenhower

The Mills College Women's Leadership Institute
Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94613; (510) 430-2019. www.mills.edu/WLI/wli.home.html

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME)
3 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001-2281; (212) 279-2626. www.nacme.org

The National Network for Minority Women in Science (MWIS) AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 326-6670. www.aaas.org

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Education and Human Resources, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230; (703) 306-1600, www.nsf.gov

National Science Teachers Association
1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA 22201-3000 (703.243.7100), www.nsta.org

Science Education Reform for All (SERA) Project
Third Floor, Kneip Building, 700 Governor's Drive, Pierre, SD 57501; (605) 773-4699

TERC
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140, (617) 547-0430, www.terc.edu

For more information about additional resources, to consult with some-one about your interests and concerns, to network with other organizations and educators both nationally and in your local area, or for any other educational equity questions you may have, call the WEEA Equity Resource Center's technical assistance hotline at 800-225-3088.

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Equity in Science Checklist


Strategies for Equitable Teacher-Student Interactions in a Science Classroom

Teaching strategies are at the heart of what makes the classroom an exciting place to learn. We know that there are countless strategies that help to engage students-so many that it would be impossible to list them all. Based on research by the WEEA Equity Resource Center, here are a few strategies that have been proven effective in increasing and developing equitable interactions among students and teachers. This list is from our online course "Engaging Middle School Girls in Math and Science" and we have found that they are very effective in a wide range of classrooms.

  • Provide "wait time"; that is, time for students to think before responding.

  • Actively seek participation from students who contribute infrequently. Try to build some out-of-class time with one or two different students every day just to chat and break through barriers.
  • Arrange students in cooperative groups and try single-gender groups for some situations (especially for computers). Be sure to circulate to the girls' seats or area when they're arranged in single-gender groups.
  • Praise and reprimand anyone who deserves it, every time such a response is called for, without exceptions.
  • In follow-up comments, give girls and boys the same level of prodding and continual questioning to push their thinking further.
  • If you can't get a good mix of responses by gender when students call out, establish a code for taking turns to speak (raising hands), and explain why you are enforcing it. Then, when students do call out, try not to accept their answers, regardless of gender.
  • Be aware of your facial expressions when girls and boys are speaking; listen intently to both, and try to make an extra effort not to allow interruptions when girls are speaking. Pay attention to student facial expressions so that you can identify kids who are not yet understanding or who appear disengaged.
  • Actively solicit alternative methods that students have used to solve problems, and encourage them to share and discuss.
  • Reward students for finding and pointing out your mistakes-it keeps them attentive. This strategy is also useful for students with disabilities, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

What Can Parents Do to Encourage Girls in Science?

At Home


  • Your words are powerful and can influence attitudes and performance in school and at home.

  • Suggest activities and experiences for girls that may be traditionally reserved for boys. Girls may not ask for the chance to fix a leaky pipe, build a fence or explore the cause of an electrical short, but are enthusiastic participants when given the opportunity. Encourage girls to explore non-traditional areas of interest. Praise demonstrations of daring, curiosity.
  • Stereotypes are powerful. Encourage girls, as well as boys, to question them.
  • Praise your daughter for her skills and ideas rather than for her appearance and neatness.
  • Resist rescuing girls or providing ready answers. Research shows that this kind of "help" undermines girls' confidence in their abilities.
  • Encourage new, non-traditional thinking and methods of problem solving. Help foster an environment where girls know it's acceptable to get sweaty and dirty in pursuit of a goal.
  • Become a media critic and encourage that approach in your daughter. Discuss with her the portrayals of girls and women on television, in movies, in magazines and in popular music. Does the media offer positive or negative role models for girls? Explore the messages and assumptions that the media is sending. These discussions provide ideal opportunities to explore the roles of girls and women in society
At School
  • Ask your daughter about her school experiences. Find out if she feels comfortable speaking out in class or asking for help, and whether she thinks the teachers hold the boys and the girls to the same standards.

  • Try to visit her classes to observe how the teachers interact with the students, if possible.
  • Encourage schools to celebrate the accomplishments of women.
  • Promote participation in debating clubs, school newspapers, sports and student government.
  • Push a girl who is opting out of science, math or advanced courses she could tackle.
  • Laud a C+ in a tough class as loudly as an A in an easy one.
  • Be sure that she gets "hands-on" computer time at school.

For more information contact: Women's College Coalition, 125 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20017 Phone: 202-234-0443, Fax: 202-234-0445, Email: msm@trinitydc.edu, www.academic.org/at_home.html

 

Science FAQ Packet 2000 WEEA Equity Resource Center at EDC

Julia Potter, Managing Editor
Ambika Kapur, Research Assistant

 

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