Gender Stereotypes in STEM

“Early in elementary school, many children already believe that boys are more interested than girls in computer science and engineering”. This is according to a recently released study from the University of Houston and University of Washington. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2100030118

The study surveyed 2500 students in elementary school to learn about stereotypes regarding boys’ and girls’ interest in STEM. They found that as early as first grade most students already believed that boys were more interested in computer science and engineering. Similar thoughts were mentioned from grades 1-12. Interestingly this was not due to ability in math or science, but due to perceived interest in those subjects.

The findings indicate that changing these stereotypes has to start very early. “These beliefs then, as they get older, get linked to their own motivation and their interest,” said Allison Master, assistant professor at the University of Houston College of Education. If nothing is done then these perceptions and “stereotypes are self-fulfilling prophecies.”

Many schools are trying to bring math and science concepts to children at earlier ages, but often funding and other barriers have stymied efforts. The Brooklyn Preschool of Science was launched in 2012 to expose young children to “science concepts, which are infused throughout lessons each day.” Carmelo Piazza, executive and educational director of the school states that, “kids are natural born scientists.” He emphasized the need to start them when they are young.

Papaya Tutor has a particular focus on closing the ever-growing STEM gap. https://papayatutor.com/
Late last year, Papaya hosted an all-female engineering challenge that had 1,000 college women compete from across the country. Papaya is committed to helping young girls grow in confidence and develop a real love of STEM education.     The mission of Papaya Tutor is to transform students’ lives with world class STEM tutoring. We work with students as young as 8 years old to help them with math and science and have girls as young as 9 years old learning to code. Papaya offers 7-day a week, online, bilingual, STEM tutoring and support K-12 and college students in their academic journeys.

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