When we are looking at the gender gap in STEM careers, we know that there are varying reasons why girls are shying away.
But what we are learning is that messages kids are receive about STEM careers is just one piece of the puzzle. What we are seeing now is that the persistent stereotyping of STEM professions by kids is a barrier to girls’ identity to fit.
Studies are revealing some interesting information about these stereotypes.
- Children as young as 6 implicitly and explicitly associate “math = boy” (Credit: Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, 2011)
- Girls may fear they will be doubly isolated by boys in STEM & girls outside STEM (Credit: Cheryan et al., 2019)
- Girls’ true STEM ability is underestimated by both girls & boys (Credit: Fredericks & Eccles, 2002; Herbert & Stipek, 2005; Walton & Spencer, 2009)
This is very useful information to help shape STEM outreach practices and strategically design experiences that will break down these barriers.
Have you seen any of these stereotypes present today? Maybe you experienced something like this yourself? Who can relate?