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How to engage, encourage and support more female students to study STEAM

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How to engage, encourage and support more female students to study STEAM. Presented by Dr Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education, The Royal Institution at STEAM Barcelona (Learning today to solve tomorrow! CosmoCaixa, April 17-18, 2015)

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How to engage, encourage and support more female students to study STEAM

  1. 1. How to engage, encourage and support more female students to study STEAM Dr Gail Cardew Director of Science and Education The Royal Institution April 2015
  2. 2. • Exists to ‘encourage people to think more deeply about the wonders and applications of science’ • Founded in 1799 and often regarded as the ‘home of science’ The Royal Institution • Famous scientists who were also expert at communicating science
  3. 3. • It is a myth that girls are not choosing STEM qualifications • Girls outnumber boys in STEM qualification choices overall • Girls outperform boys in STEM qualifications at all levels • BUT girls are NOT choosing physics post-16 • Percentage of girls choosing physics hasn’t changed for 30 years despite efforts What do we know? ‘STEM is not for people like me’ Averil MacDonald
  4. 4. • Untapped potential in the family • Parents need to be aware of the full range of careers available, especially in low income groups • Mothers in particular need to know their daughters could be happy in a physics/engineering career What do we know? ‘STEM not for people like me’ Averil MacDonald
  5. 5. • In 49% of co-ed state schools no girls went on to take physics post-16 (2011 data) • Girls in single sex state schools 2.4 times more likely to study physics post-16 than co-ed schools • This positive effect not apparent for other science subjects What do we know? ‘It’s different for girls’ – Institute of Physics, UK
  6. 6. • Less than 5% of 15-year-old girls in OECD countries contemplate pursuing a career in engineering or computing (cf 20% boys) • Girls less able to ‘think like a scientist’ • Girls – even high-achieving girls – have less confidence in their abilities and are more anxious towards maths What do we know? The ABC of gender equality in education: aptitude, behaviour, confidence. PISA 2015
  7. 7. • Parents and teachers should become more aware of their own gender biases • E.g. Why are parents more likely to expect their sons, rather than their daughters, to work in a STEM field – even when boys and girls perform equally well in mathematics and science? What do we know? The ABC of gender equality in education: aptitude, behaviour, confidence. PISA 2015
  8. 8. • ‘Parents explain more often to boys than to girls during shared scientific thinking’ (Crowley et al 2001) • Parents equally likely to talk to boys/girls about how to use interactive museum exhibits • BUT three times more likely to explain science to boys than girls • Suggest parents unintentionally contributing to a gender gap What do we know? Museum studies – parents explain science more to boys than girls
  9. 9. • Girls more likely to search for careers information online than boys, but still don’t choose maths or science (PISA 2015) • Making the decision not just based on this information but the cultural influences on them throughout their lives • Start early! What do we know?
  10. 10. • Developed in response to research – Gap analysis highlights lack of activities for this group • Focus is on the approach not the facts • Mix of mums and dads with daughters, as well as sons • Diversity also important ExpeRimental Royal Institution (Ri) videos for parents of pre-school and primary children
  11. 11. ExpeRimental Royal Institution (Ri) videos for parents of pre-school and primary children Balancing sculptures
  12. 12. ExpeRimental Fiona Sharkey and daughters from Motherwell, Scotland, have fun with chromatography
  13. 13. • L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre – 51% girls (age 7–18) – 85% said their visit changed their attitude towards science in a positive or very positive way – 63% said the visit made them more interested in studying science further (32% already wanted to) • Ri unconference Other Ri activities School activities
  14. 14. • Public programme – speakers and audience • You Tube Channel – more work needs to be done Other Ri activities Life-long commitment

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