January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Where Are the Women in STEM? What Can We Do to Support and Retain Them?

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Laura Henriques

Women are far less likely than men to earn pSTEM (physical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degrees or work in the field. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has gotten a bit of press lately. US News and World Reports had an article highlighting a Clinton Foundation Report showing women in developing countries have less access to cell phones (and therefore the internet) than men. This results in decreased access to health care, fewer job options, a lack of flexibility with work and childcare related issues, and a lowered sense of empowerment. That article linked to several other articles about the lack of diversity in STEM fields in the US, the leaky pipeline and more.

US data show that women attend and graduate from college at higher rates than men yet they earn pSTEM degrees at lower rates. A new report released by the American Association of University Women entitled Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing provides insight into the problem and makes recommendations for helping narrow the gender gap in engineering and computer science fields.

Their report shares research findings that female engineers and computer scientists get hired at lower rates than their male counterparts and are less likely to remain in the field. The figure below (taken from the report) shows the percentage of women in selected STEM occupations. While women have made gains and are fairly well represented in biology and chemistry related fields, their participation is significantly below men in computing/math and engineering fields. (The gender gaps are even larger for women of color.)

Notes: Postsecondary teachers are not included. For biological scientists in the 1980 and 1990 censuses, data include life scientists as well as biological scientists. For chemical and material scientists in the 1960 and 1970 censuses, the category was titled “chemists”; in the 1980 and 1990 censuses, the category was titled “chemists except biochemists.” For computer and mathematical occupations in the 1960 census, no category for computer scientists

Notes: Postsecondary teachers are not included. For biological scientists in the 1980 and 1990 censuses, data include life scientists as well as biological scientists. For chemical and material scientists in the 1960 and 1970 censuses, the category was titled “chemists”; in the 1980 and 1990 censuses, the category was titled “chemists except biochemists.” For computer and mathematical occupations in the 1960 census, no category for computer scientists

One of the findings from the study suggests we have a gender bias. A study was done where university research scientists were given resumes that were identical in every way except for the gender of the applicant. They were asked to provide feedback on the applicant of potential student science-laboratory managers. Male applicants were deemed more competent, more hirable and the faculty member was more willing to mentor the male student. The gender of the scientist reviewing the resume did not factor into the decisions. The scientists were less likely to hire the woman because they viewed her as less competent even though she had an identical resume to the male student (Moss-Racusin et al, 2012 as cited in Corbett & Hill, 2015). The AAUW report shares findings from another study by Reuben and colleagues (2014) that show gender bias in hiring decisions. Based solely on appearance, men got selected at higher rates, based on predictions of future performance men got selected at higher rates. Only when objective past performances could be compared were women selected “correctly” based on performance. There are findings from other studies about stereotype threat, gender bias, and how gender-bias influences self-concept.

The report is not all doom and gloom. The authors showcase successes at Harvey Mudd College (where revisions to their computer science courses, early research experiences and bringing women students to a the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference) and elsewhere. They also make suggestions for us as we move forward. The list below is taken from the report (pages 104-105).

Educators at all levels influence how students perceive the fields of engineering and computing, as well as how students view themselves. The following recommendations come from the literature reviewed on bias (chapters 2, 3, and 4), stereotype threat (chapters 2 and 5), and values and career choice (chapters 6, 7, and 8).

Table2_STEM

While the recommendations from this report are specifically aimed at helping increase participation by girls and women, the recommendations are useful for promoting involvement for all students – male, female, under-represented students, etc.

Works Cited:

Corbett, C. & Hill, C. (2015). Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing. Washington DC: AAUW. Available online at http://www.aauw.org/research/solving-the-equation/

Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(41), 16474–79. doi:10.1073/pnas.1211286109.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. Dear CSTA and Laura,

    Great Article!! I am sharing it with Assembly Woman Ling Ling Chang of the 55th District … she is highly involved in STEM and would be a great advocate for CSTA to reach out to and partner.

    She is coming to our school this week and we are very excited about her visit.

    Your article is enlightening and hopeful. Keep up the great work!

    Gratefully,
    Sue Pritchard … aka … Dr. P. of Washington Middle School in La Habra

  2. Sue — glad you found it useful. How did the meeting go? Laura

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LATEST POST

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.