Series: ConnectED Deeper Learning

Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Education
Lesson Objective: Creatively address the STEM gender gap
Grades 6-12 / STEM / Representation

Thought starters

  1. What factors contributed to the decision to gender segregate the STEM classes in the early grades?
  2. What are advantages/disadvantages of structuring STEM classes along gender lines?
  3. What other strategies can you imagine that could help close the STEM gender gap?
I've always been "that girl" who preferred science kits over dolls when writing Santa weeks before Christmas. Thankfully my parents strongly encouraged it, well everything but me going into outer space...I digress. I teach third grade currently and always run a programming or STEM club on Booster Day (a reward for students where they can choose a club to go to based on interest). There are always more boys that come than girls. I've always wondered why. Ken Davis gave a great answer to that and supported it with data collected from students at his school. I never thought that girls were veering away from the clubs because they felt the boys may just push them aside and take the reigns. What an interesting deduction!! Great video!!
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This is something i would love to do myself.All girls don't just like dolls ,I took up wood shop and auto mechanic .So its very good that girls try new things.
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  • Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Education Transcript

    Student: Here. Hold it with one hand, and then put that in there

    Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Education Transcript

    Student: Here. Hold it with one hand, and then put that in there and give it a little twist.

    Narrator: We know within the general STEM universe that there is a huge disparity between male representation and female representation.

    Teacher: What’s it like to be a girl at a science and engineering school?

    Narrator: What makes School of Engineering Sciences so exciting is that they are being proactive about remedying that. Many places are kind of throwing up their hands and saying, “What can we do? How do we deal with this gender gap?” What SES has done is that okay, we need to really talk to our female students and get a better understanding what they want. What do they need to be successful?

    Student: Growing up, I liked taking things apart. I used to get in trouble, cuz I would take like those talking dolls apart and just look at them. My mom would be like, “What are you doing?” I’m just like, “I wanted to see how it worked.” My brothers used to always say, “You can’t do that. You can’t do that. You’re supposed to be a girl. You’re supposed to play with your doll, not take her apart.” I don’t want that anymore.

    Student: It’s the bottom one that’s messing up, isn’t it?

    Teacher: Yeah.

    Student: That little curiosity in me always gets the better part.

    Teacher: Your radius here is three. Your radius here is 20.

    Teacher: What I have found and what the school has found through asking the students is that a lot of times the girls are interested, but the boys seem to push them out of the way and kind of take control of the project. In the seventh grade, we’ve implemented an all-girls path and an all-boys path.

    Teacher: When we talk to groups of girls about whether they should be separated from the boys or not, they felt that they did not want to be separated all the way through the school. They felt that they did have to play on an equal field with the boys at some point, because that’s what real life is like, and they have to be used to that.

    Student: Could you use a compass to find out?

    Teacher: The younger girls need to see themselves in the higher grades. They need to see both themselves in industry; they need to see female representation out in the workforce and in the STEM-related jobs. They also need to just see their peers, the juniors, the seniors, sticking with it and working with them to provide that kind of nurturing sense of support.

    Student: You measure it and then you find the point where you want to erase and then you erase that—

    Teacher: Outside of SES, you know how sometimes guys pretend they know what they’re doing? They’ll like take over even though they don’t know any more than you know.

    Student: - just mess it up—

    Teacher: A lot of the time, it’s just easy for the girls to get lost in the shuffle. We just want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Teacher: Here, the women come first, but if a guy wants to benefit from our knowledge, they’re welcome to. Cuz you guys have a lot of knowledge that you could share.

    Student: This one caught my eye because I’m more interested in like science, so hopefully I get to stay here for high school.

    Teacher: The Future Women of Science and Engineering is a club for our campus. We’re starting it here to put girls in contact with mentors, and also to put girls in contact with each other who want to pursue projects that they might not pursue during the course of the school day.

    Teacher: My goal with this group is to keep you guys interested so that way you guys can grow up to be female engineers. Pretty much tell the guys, “Okay, females can do it just as good if not better.”

    Teacher: Last week, we talked about mousetrap cars as a first project, maybe.

    Student: I have the measurements for the pieces of wood.

    Teacher: The goal is to let them pick the projects they wanna do.

    Teacher: Would you guys be interested in maybe doing something that involves computers, that you can make a design on a computer and we’d be able to cut it out with the laser?

    Student: Yeah! [chorus]

    Teacher: Okay, is that lined up on the other side?

    Narrator: I think over time my hope is that what we’ll see is that gender gap starting to even out as more and more pathways like SES start to create much more proactive and powerful supports that allow girls to know that yes, there is a role for you here and you can succeed.

    [End of Audio]

School Details

School Of Engineering & Sciences
7345 Gloria Drive
Sacramento CA 95831
Population: 502

Data Provided By:



Dave Yanofsky
Ken Davis
Matt Turkie
Dylan Besk



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture