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Misconceptions Surrounding Girls and STEM

by Keith Wagstaff

NBC News

Article excerpt

Gallup: Girls Less Confident About Computer Science

The lack of diversity at Silicon Valley tech companies has roots in America’s schools, where, according to a recent poll, both students and teachers believe boys are more interested and capable than girls when it comes to learning computer science. Overall, 46 percent of female students in seventh to 12th grade said they were confident they could learn computer science, compared to 62 percent of boys.

Our take

Why Girls Doubt Their STEM-Related Skills

A study conducted by Gallup and Google, of students, parents and teachers around the country, confirms what most already know: conventional wisdom suggests that boys are more likely to be interested in computer science than girls. It’s conventional wisdom that needs to be changed. Girls have just as much aptitude for computer science, math and technology-related careers as boys. They are hindered, though, by entrenched beliefs that, as this study illustrates, even affect their own self-perceptions of their abilities. What should you be doing to help minimize these misconceptions?

The need for skilled talent in science, math and technology is a high area of concern and focus in both education and the business world; opportunities may exist for educators to work with parents and students to overcome girls’ lack of confidence in these areas. These interactions need to be ongoing, and need to extend across all grade levels; many schools are already looking for ways to engage students in STEM-related activities in preschool and kindergarten.