Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is there a Science Gender Gap at Your School?

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), released in May, found eighth grade boys scored 5% higher in science than their female counterparts. A study published in 2011 by the National Science Foundation revealed the gender gap expands at the highest education levels, with females making up only 30% of employed science, engineering, or health doctorates.

A number of programs have sought to boost the number of girls pursuing science-related careers. NSTA wants to know if you think there is a gender gap between male and female students interested in science and what, if anything, your school is doing to close the gap. Let us know what you think by taking this short survey.” (Source:

As an intermediate teacher (in Canada, that would be grades 7 and 8) for the last seven years, I find the NAEP results to be disconcerting.  From my experience (purely anecdotal evidence and a small sample size), I found that girls enjoyed science classes, performed well on assessments, and participated during lessons and discussions. I have not really seen a gender gap in science or math in my classes, but it could be possible that the gap becomes more apparent in high school.

According to the National Science Foundation study (2011), the gender gap expands at the highest education levels.  It makes me wonder at what point some of these female students start to lose interest in science education or choose to no longer pursue further studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.

What have you noticed in your classes and schools?  Do you notice a gender gap?  If so, is your school doing anything to close the science gender gap?

In Ontario, secondary students are required to take two science credits prior to graduating.  Should students be required to take science credits all four years of high school?  Would this promote further science education for female students? How many years of science education are required for students in your areas?


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  1. Melanie Miday-SternJuly 14, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    In my school, we have a Science End of Grade test. I have girls out scoring boys for the past 2 years! It just depends on how interesting you make it and how interested the student is in Science! As they get older, a gap might start, but I don't know!

  2. Our school has a strong science program throughout. Our students are tested at the 4th grade level. My daughter loves science and scored very well. You need quality instruction and it is definitely more hands on and exciting for your reluctant learners.

    Surfin' Through Second

  3. It's interesting that all three of us mentioned that girls enjoyed science classes and did well in science while in elementary school (JK-gr 8) what's going on after that? Many studies show that fewer female students are pursuing post-secondary studies in science and even fewer are pursuing careers in these areas. I wonder what can be done to keep these girls interested in science and motivated to continue their studies.

    Are there any high school teachers here that could help us understand this problem a bit?



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