Are girls at school taught science differently ?


This newly published paper by a Macquarie researcher Dr Carol Newall and colleagues suggests that teachers and tutors treat girls differently when it comes to science. The subconscious bias educators have is one which perceives girls as young as 8 years old as academically less capable than boys.
The experiment consisted of 80 trainee teachers and psychology students, who were asked to rate children’s academic capability based on fictional profiles of 8-year-old children with various interests. Girls, especially girls with stereotypical feminine interests such as plying with dolls, were less likely to be interested in physics or any science in general. 

In another part of the experiment, participants were told they were teaching a child through Skype. When they thought to be teaching a girl, they used “less scientific talk.” 

Dr. Newall believes all of us have unconscious biases that affect due to the society we live in and the only way to change this by a “cultural gender shift”.  Only 7 percent of girls in Australia study physics in their final years of high school according to the Australian Institute of Physics. 

However, the issue does not lie within the lack of female scientist role models. Dr. Newall believes the real role models should be successful girls in science in a high school, so younger generations can imagine themselves succeeding in the near future. 

According to Dr. Newall, another way of breaking stereotypical gender roles is to ask girls from a young age to complete non-stereotypical tasks, such as fixing a car engine. 

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