Our youngest daughter seems to be a “science girl.” She loves snakes (really she is my daughter), robotics, and putting things together. Without a nudge and push to join the “ non-fiction revolution”, she gets out plenty of non -fiction books out about the mysteries of the universe, from natural disasters to understanding human calamities. Whether it is for me or for her father, there are plenty of questions as to how and why something works they way it does. I watch the wheels turn and see her make causal predictions based on this type of thinking. I sit back and proudly take it in. I hope she will always ask questions and try to figure it out. I hope she will remain a science girl.
Yet lately, math has been getting her down. They are starting to get into larger number computations and some larger math principles. The fact she has to work at it a little bit right now is getting her discouraged. Her speed on her math facts isn’t quite up to snuff (though improving). Her mind gets tripped up there, rather than putting the thoughts and energy into performing the task. I sadly think to myself, is this where we start to lose girls with math and science? Is she receiving some message that this realm is not for her. It’s certainly not coming from her parents, her dynamite teacher, or anyone else in her life. Is she hearing society’s biases and negativity towards girls when it comes to these subjects?
As we are all probably aware, this is a widely talked about subject in academia, with many studies stating that girls internalize society’s stereotypes regarding this phenomenon; believe them; and hence become outperformed in math and science. As highlighted in a Psychology Today article titled ‘Helping Girls Like Math Is Not The Same As Helping Them Do Well‘ girls attitude of “I do not think I can” quickly “becomes I can’t and won’t do” well. We are trying are best not to let this occur!
There is an incredible amount of information out there for both parents and teachers to encourage girls in these realms. At the website: The Volunteer Guide, the article “Help Girls Excel in Math and Science“, by Jamie Littlefield, offers a list of suggestions to parents to help girls excel with confidence in math and science. From encouraging them to experiment at home and play at math and science; exposing them to great female role models in these subjects; and working with teachers to make sure they provide a great context for learning math and science for both girls and boys in their classroom, there are some great tips at this site. For teachers, the “Institute of Education Sciences “ “What Works Clearinghouse” provides an overview of best methods for helping girls succeed in math and science and certainly well worth the review and read.
We all want our girls to be confident and follow their math and science dreams. Let’s work hard to keep them on track!