Despite gains in science achievement scores, girls lag behind boys in every grade tested in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
By the time girls reach high school, a disproportionate number steer away from advanced courses in science – physics, engineering and computer technology – limiting their options for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college degrees or careers. Research points to three main areas where schools can positively impact girls’ achievement, confidence and affinity with science: (1) instructional strategies, (2) curricular decisions, and (3) classroom and school structure. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) pave the way for increased exposure to all disciplines of science for all students. This is a breakthrough, in particular, for girls, as research attributes gender disparities in science achievement, college graduation, and career success to an early “experience gap” between girls and boys. The vignette below highlights an early exposure to engineering through a forest restoration project that girls found engaging. It underscores how the purposeful inclusion of effective strategies for girls can have a positive impact on their confidence as beginning scientists and engineers.