Creating a gender-inclusive teaching and learning environment in your classroom can inspire girls to engage more deeply with STEM, and to see themselves as successful STEM learners and potential STEM leaders.
A key idea throughout this section is girls’ self-concepts and the way that this relates to stereotypical views of STEM subjects and careers. Girls typically want to perceive themselves in a certain way; for example, collaborative, caring, creative, and socially and environmentally conscious. Whereas, STEM and STEM role models are often portrayed as solitary, geeky, boring, abstract and theoretical. Teachers can challenge that perception of STEM by designing creative, problem-based learning experiences and connecting girls with relatable, inspiring role models.
Girls also often have a strong ‘fixed mindset’ when it comes to STEM (Boaler, 2014). That is, they perceive that STEM requires natural talent, and that because they may struggle with aspects of STEM learning, they cannot succeed in it. By explicitly teaching and encouraging a growth mindset, teachers can support girls’ engagement and achievement in STEM. See more Youth in STEM research.
Creating an inclusive STEM classroom environment requires providing gender-neutral learning opportunities, challenging stereotypes, supporting girls’ self-concepts and encouraging a growth mindset. These strategies have been shown to support not just girls, but all students.
A gender-neutral learning environment is not necessarily one that is gender-free. Rather, it’s an environment in which teachers and learners avoid gender stereotyping and aim to ensure that all learners are appreciated, respected, and treated equally.
Using the 'Seven principles of gender-inclusive lesson design', you can design lessons that will engage not only girls, but all your students in STEM.
Girls need opportunities to engage positively with STEM. Discover models that provide opportunities for STEM learning both within and outside the curriculum.