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So what factors are discouraging girls from excelling in math, science and computer science studies in high school? Research has shown a number of different issues that need to be addressed. They believe that girls are not presented with adequate information about science-related career opportunities and their prerequisites, and that high school counselors often do not encourage further courses in math and science. In addition, texts, media and many adults often project sex-stereotyped views of science and scientists.
A lack of development of spatial ability skills may also be an issue, which could be fostered in shop and mechanical drawing classes. Girls also have fewer experiences with science activities and equipment, which are often stereotyped as being masculine.
In order to encourage girls in pursuit of math and science, teachers are encouraged to maintain well-equipped, organized and perceptually stimulating classrooms, use non-sexist language and examples, include information on women scientists and stress creatively and basic skills and provide career information.
In addition, math and science teachers should use laboratories, discussions and weekly quizzes as their primary modes of instruction or teaching strategies and supplement those activities with field trips and guest speakers. If possible, teachers should also encourage parental involvement.
Studies have also shown that teachers, both male and female, who were successful in motivating girls to continue to study science, practiced what is called "directed intervention". They asked girls to assist with demonstrations, which required these students to perform and not merely record, in laboratories, and in science-related fieldtrips.
When it comes to computer science studies, a similar approach can be taken. Although these studies do involved math, programming and technical issues, computer science educators need to be aware that working with computers involves much more than that. It also requires fully developed verbal and interpersonal skills - an area in which girls tend to excel at.
In order to attract more girls to study, teachers should concentrate on applications and not just on math or programming. That's because girls generally don't get as excited about computers for their gadget value, as boys do. Instead, girls become more interested and engaged when technology is discussed in terms of it's usefulness for problem solving.
Computer science educators should also impart to girls important need for women in industry and outline more career options. For example, jobs are not just limited to programming; individuals are needed to help solve business problems with technology solutions. The industry itself is focused on solving problems, and developing solutions to help business continue to grow.
By introducing science, math and computer science in a positive manner to girls in all levels of education, we may be able to turn tide and see more and more women choose careers in these important fields. If we truly believe children are our future, now is time to ensure that they have a place in future we have created.
Valerie Giles owns and operates Cyber-Prof: Teacher Resource Site an educational web site that specializes in resources for school and teacher supplies , teaching strategies, educational games, classroom technology and home schooling. http://www.cyber-prof.com