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Study: Girls would like science if they had female science teachers–oh wait, they already do!

March 12, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Teacher with HS science class
Uh-oh, a male science teacher!

More than three-fourths of all K-12 teachers in public school are female, and as for science teachers, 65 percent are female at the eighth-grade level, and 44 percent are female at the twelfth-grade level. That means that more than half of all science teachers from grades six through twelve belong to the role-model sex for aspiring women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

But nooo, according to two recent studies whose contents are reported in the Hechinger Report, that’s not good enough. We need even more women science teachers:

“The studies suggest that if there were more female math and science teachers in middle and high school, more girls would study these subjects in college, and that providing female role models earlier in life — before students get to college — might be one of the more effective ways to encourage more girls to pursue higher level math and science. (‘Science’ broadly refers to all the hard sciences from computer science and physics to chemistry and engineering).

***

“The first study, ‘Growing the roots of STEM majors: Female math and science high school faculty and the participation of students in STEM‘ (referring to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), published Jan. 31, 2015 in the Economics of Education Review, looked at every student in North Carolina who graduated from a public high school in 2004 and continued on to a public college or university in the state. The University of North Carolina (U.N.C.) and Duke University researchers had access to a trove of data, from the students’ middle school grades and high school transcripts to family income and school characteristics.

“The researchers found that girls who went to high schools where at least 72 percent of the math and science teachers were female were 19 percent more likely to graduate from college with a science or math major than similar students whose only difference was that they went to a high school where only 54 percent of the math and science teachers were female.

“Boys, by contrast, were unaffected by the gender mix of their high school teachers.”

Oh, really? Why do 72 percent of girls but only 65 percent of boys manage to graduate from high school?

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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