According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fourth grade, the number of girls and boys who like math and science is about the same. But by eighth grade, girls are less likely than boys to think they are good at math and science.
Why? A number of studies show that lack of confidence and lack of exposure are the two main reasons that science subjects fall out of favor with girls. As a result, science curriculum tends to favor boys' interests over girls', further widening the gap between girls and science. So what can parents with daughters do to reverse this trend?
A number of online and after-school clubs have emerged in the last decade to address these very questions and concerns. In Cambridge, Mass., the Science Club for Girls
offers after-school sustainability lessons to girls who would not otherwise be exposed to sciences. As part of their green science curriculum, girls make play-dough, read Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax," make bath balls from baking soda and citric acid, as well as learn about animals, electricity and mechanics. They work together on real-life science projects rather than competing individually like the teaching method traditionally preferred by boys.
Similar clubs — like the GEM Club
in Virginia, Girlstart
in Texas, and the Saturday Science Club for Girls
in California — are working to give girls the support they need to stay engaged in sciences. Check with your school to find out if a similar program exists in your area. If not, why not offer to start a program at your daughter's school? If that's not an option, online sites like Braincake
have a similar mission of keeping girls engaged with sciences and with each other.