The Single Sex Debate for Girls in Science: a Comparison Between Two Informal Science Programs on Middle School Students’ STEM Identity Formation
- 2.2k Downloads
Currently, there are policy debates regarding the efficacy and legality of single sex formal and informal education programs. This issue is particularly poignant in science education due to the historical marginalization of women in these fields. This marginalization has resulted in women being positioned as a stigmatized group within many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields. Research points to adolescence as the age where this sense of marginalization begins to develop. As a result, policy responses have utilized various frameworks such as: increased access for women, changing pedagogy to address women’s learning styles, changing the language and culture of science to prevent marginalization of stigmatized groups, and finally exploring the role that individual identity plays in the marginalization of women. This study adds to the policy debate as it applies to single sex education by comparing middle school participants’ STEM identity formation during two informal science learning environments (an all girls’ STEM camp and a co-educational STEM camp). Additionally, this study focuses on the influence of camp activities within two informal science education programs: particularly the provision of role models and authentic STEM research activities, as means to improve STEM identity and make these fields relevant to the lives of middle school students. The results indicate that both camps improved girls’ STEM identities. These findings suggest that the single sex environment is not as important to STEM identity as the pedagogy used within the program.
KeywordsSingle sex programs Informal education STEM education Perception of scientists
This study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research through DMR 0654118
- American Association of University Women (2009). Separated by sex: Title IX and single-sex education (Position paper). Washington, DC: AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations Department. http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/actionpages/upload/single-sex_ed111.pdf. Accessed 25 Jul 2010.
- American Association of University Women (2010). Why so few? Women in science,technology, engineering, and mathematics (Report). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
- Anderson, T. H. (1995). The movement and the sixties. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Aschbacher, P. R., Li, E., & Roth, E. J. (2010). Is science me? High school students’ identities, participation and aspirations in science, engineering, and medicine. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(5), 564–582.Google Scholar
- AWE, 2008. Assessing Women and Men in Engineering website. (http://www.engr.psu.edu/awe/secured/director/precollege/pre_college.aspx. Accessed 3 Mar 2008.
- Bracey, G. W. (2006). Separate but superior? A review of issues and data bearing on single-sex education. Tempe: Educational Policy Research Unity (EPRU). EPSL-0611-221-EPRU.Google Scholar
- Creswell, J. W. (2006). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
- Darke, K., Clewell, B., & Sevo, R. (2002). Meeting the challenge: the impact of the National Science Foundation’s program for women and girls. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 8, 285–303.Google Scholar
- Demetry, C., Hubelbank, J., Blaisdell, S., Sontgerath, S., Nicholson, M. E., Rosenthal, E., et al. (2009). Supporting young women to enter engineering: long-term effects of a middle school engineering outreach program for girls. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 15, 119–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Eccles, J. S. (2007). Where are all the women? Gender differences in participation in physical science and engineering. In S. J. Ceci & W. M. Williams (Eds.), Why aren’t more women in science? Top researchers debate the evidence (pp. 199–210). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gandy, K. (2006). Separation threatens girls. USA Today. http://www.now.org/issues/education/060328op-ed.html. Accessed 10 Mar 2009.
- Hazari, Z., Sonnert, G., Sadler, P. M., & Shanahan, M. C. (2010). Connecting high school Physics experiences, outcome expectations, physics identity, and physics career choice: a gender study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(8), 978–1003.Google Scholar
- Mael, F., Alonso, A., Gibson, D., Rogers, K., & Smith, M. (2005). Single-sex versus coeducational schooling: A systematic review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service. http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/reports.html. Accessed 5 Mar 2007.
- McGrayne, S. B. (2005). Nobel Prize women in science: their lives, struggles, and momentous discoveries (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.Google Scholar
- National Science Foundation (2011). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. NSF 11–309. Table 9–37: Demographic characteristics of employed scientists and engineers by race/ethnicity and sex. Arlington, VA.Google Scholar
- Ong, M., Wright, C., Espinosa, L. L., & Orfield, G. (2011). Inside the double bind: a synthesis of empirical research on undergraduate and graduate women of color in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Harvard Educational Review, 81(2), 172–208.Google Scholar
- Rittmayer, M.A. & Beier, M.E. (2009). Self-Efficacy in STEM. In B. Bogue & E. Cady (Eds.). Applying Research to Practice (ARP) Resources. http://www.engr.psu.edu/AWE/ARPresources.aspx. Accessed 1 Sept 2010.
- Sadler, T. D., Burgin, S., McKinney, L., & Ponjuan, L. (2010). Learning science through research apprenticeships: a critical review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(3), 235–256.Google Scholar
- Salomone, R. C. (2003). Same, different, equal: rethinking single-sex schooling. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Spielhagen, F. R. (2008). Having it our way: students speak out on single-sex classes. In F. R. Spielhagen (Ed.), Debating single-sex education: separate and equal (pp. 32–46). Baltimore: Rowan & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Williams, W. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2007). Introduction: Striving for perspective in the debate on women in science. In S. J. Ceci & W. M. Williams (Eds.), Why aren’t more women in science? Top researchers debate the evidence. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Zohar, A., & Bronshtein, B. (2005). Physics teachers’ knowledge and beliefs regarding girls’ low participation rates in advanced physics classes. International Journal of Science, 27, 61–77.Google Scholar