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A Model for Gender Equitable Science Education
Unformatted Document Text:  of scientific and mathematics instruction, as well as females’ perceptions of science and mathematics courses. Other barriers stem from societal influences such as parents’ and teachers’ lack of encouragement, authority figures’ attitudes toward science, and the lack of support for females in science-based careers (Northrup, 2003). Researchers believe that fostering a safe and nurturing environment, promoting problem-solving skills, creating collaborative experiences, educating teachers, offering hands-on learning tools, and allowing open discussion of gender stereotypes are essential for encouraging female students’ success in technological fields. The first hurdle that girls face is being born female. Research studies have documented the wide gender gap in achievement scores between males and females in the areas of science and mathematics (NSF, 2000). The authors of this research assert that when girls are allowed to work in a manner intrinsic to their collective learning style, appropriate science and mathematics learning takes place. Such concerns have laid the groundwork for the SISERP intervention programs, which specifically target females in order to increase their success in science and mathematics by providing access to gender-related teacher professional development, classroom materials, and curricula to maximize a gender-equitable approach to science education. Increasing evidence also shows that the gender gap in science may be better understood in terms of the supposed masculine nature of STEM related disciplines. Therefore, assigning STEM disciplines a masculine moniker impacts the learning styles of females and the current instructional patterns of teaching STEM in classrooms around the world (AAUW, 2000). The assertion is that the general learning style of females does correlate with the manner in which science is presently taught. However, the research does not support this assertion. In addition to gender, race, and quality of education, another challenge female students must overcome is the effect of classroom teachers’ perceptions of gender. Throughout world history, gender bias has been a problem that many women have strived to surmount. While women work hard to conquer gender bias in all aspects of daily life, female students continue to struggle against considerable gender inequities within the educational system (Jones, et.al., 2000). Stereotypical practices concerning females and males are second nature to many members of our society. The notion that “girls do this” and “boys do that” is deeply entrenched in the American educational culture. Unfortunately, very few in-service and pre-service teacher education programs spend significant, if any, time on gender and the classroom. On average, pre-service teachers participating in teacher education programs spend less than 2 hours per semester discussing issues surrounding gender equity in the classroom (Stilles, 2002). With this in mind, it is highly important that gender biases in the classroom are dispelled through heightened awareness and education in the “best practices” for gender equity. Current research on gender equity and the classroom has shown that the first step toward gender equity in classroom teaching practices is self-evaluation. In order for teachers and school administrators to promote gender equity in the classroom, educators must be conscious of their own gender biases (Jones, et.al., 2000). Contribution: Over the past 12 years, the Sisters in Science Equity Reform Project (SISERP) has focused on two major obstacles preventing equity in science education. As evidenced by 12 years of research in the area of equity in science education, the gender gap and gender bias in the classroom tend to inhibit females from exploring careers, both academic and professional, in the sciences. SISERP was established in the interest of providing equitable avenues for all students to pursue academic success in STEM disciplines. Incorporated into the six components of SISERP are comprehensive science

Authors: Hammrich, Penny., Myers, Michelle., Ragins, Anika. and Dellera, Victoria.
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of scientific and mathematics instruction, as well as females’ perceptions of science and mathematics
courses. Other barriers stem from societal influences such as parents’ and teachers’ lack of
encouragement, authority figures’ attitudes toward science, and the lack of support for females in
science-based careers (Northrup, 2003). Researchers believe that fostering a safe and nurturing
environment, promoting problem-solving skills, creating collaborative experiences, educating teachers,
offering hands-on learning tools, and allowing open discussion of gender stereotypes are essential for
encouraging female students’ success in technological fields.
The first hurdle that girls face is being born female. Research studies have documented the wide gender
gap in achievement scores between males and females in the areas of science and mathematics (NSF,
2000). The authors of this research assert that when girls are allowed to work in a manner intrinsic to
their collective learning style, appropriate science and mathematics learning takes place. Such concerns
have laid the groundwork for the SISERP intervention programs, which specifically target females in
order to increase their success in science and mathematics by providing access to gender-related teacher
professional development, classroom materials, and curricula to maximize a gender-equitable approach
to science education.
Increasing evidence also shows that the gender gap in science may be better understood in terms of the
supposed masculine nature of STEM related disciplines. Therefore, assigning STEM disciplines a
masculine moniker impacts the learning styles of females and the current instructional patterns of
teaching STEM in classrooms around the world (AAUW, 2000). The assertion is that the general
learning style of females does correlate with the manner in which science is presently taught. However,
the research does not support this assertion.
In addition to gender, race, and quality of education, another challenge female students must overcome
is the effect of classroom teachers’ perceptions of gender. Throughout world history, gender bias has
been a problem that many women have strived to surmount. While women work hard to conquer gender
bias in all aspects of daily life, female students continue to struggle against considerable gender
inequities within the educational system (Jones, et.al., 2000). Stereotypical practices concerning females
and males are second nature to many members of our society. The notion that “girls do this” and “boys
do that” is deeply entrenched in the American educational culture.
Unfortunately, very few in-service and pre-service teacher education programs spend significant, if any,
time on gender and the classroom. On average, pre-service teachers participating in teacher education
programs spend less than 2 hours per semester discussing issues surrounding gender equity in the
classroom (Stilles, 2002). With this in mind, it is highly important that gender biases in the classroom
are dispelled through heightened awareness and education in the “best practices” for gender equity.
Current research on gender equity and the classroom has shown that the first step toward gender equity
in classroom teaching practices is self-evaluation. In order for teachers and school administrators to
promote gender equity in the classroom, educators must be conscious of their own gender biases (Jones,
et.al., 2000).
Contribution: Over the past 12 years, the Sisters in Science Equity Reform Project (SISERP) has
focused on two major obstacles preventing equity in science education. As evidenced by 12 years of
research in the area of equity in science education, the gender gap and gender bias in the classroom tend
to inhibit females from exploring careers, both academic and professional, in the sciences. SISERP was
established in the interest of providing equitable avenues for all students to pursue academic success in
STEM disciplines. Incorporated into the six components of SISERP are comprehensive science


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