Girls, science and math - three elements working good together
Ask some children what they want to be when they grow up, and you will get all sorts of answers. Then, observe the same situation when parents are around. If a girl says she wants to become a police officer or an engineer, this is what she will next hear from mother/father: Oh, no, this job is for men, not for girls. And honestly, this statement is completely false for the 21st century. In our modern times, gender is not a valid criterion when talking about a job selection. Now, women and men can pursue the same careers while succeeding or failing in the same ways.
This kind of misjudgment determines girls to believe that it is ok to ignore some school objects and to work hard on others. It makes them think that it is normal not to be great at math or science, because these are male subjects. As a consequence, girls don't even try to be better than boys at STEM subjects. They lack self confidence and they settle with second place.
Some facts about gender gap
Although girls are more hard working and more serious than boys, an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) research has found that when it comes to math and science, male students are the ones leading. Girls become anxious when faced with exact sciences and completely lose their self confidence.
Then, girls seemed to easily admit that they were bad at maths and they do not like this subject. This behavior is also supported by the teachers' and parents' low expectorations.
Next, when they were told to imagine a scientist, most children (both girls and boys) depicted a man. It is clear that in their minds, this job is only for males. Girls didn't even take into consideration the existence of a female scientist or engineer.
Unfortunately, most people believe that this gender gap is innate. It is completely false. It is only a matter of general behavior towards school and self confidence. As proof, an OECD study has shown that girls who believed they were great at maths performed as well as boys with the same attitude. In this case, the gap disappeared.
Girls' schools have a chance of bringing in a sense of balance. In here, there are more girls who choose to study high level sciences than in normal schools. This only proves that they are capable of the same performances as boys.
What is there to be done?
Teachers should not discriminate girls anymore. Math and science professors must involve girls in class activity as much as they involve boys. Then, they must give girls the same amount of credit – they are also capable of solving difficult exercises and completing complex experiments.
Girls should be exposed to role models from real life. Being faced only with male STEM teachers and pictures with male STEM careers won't help them that much. On the contrary, this will only create a stronger stereotype. Schools should hire female science teachers and use images with female scientists. This won't affect boys at all – they will still be regarding STEM careers as possible.
Parents must encourage girls to pursue scientist careers. They should point out every use of these vital subjects – on weather, on medicines, on food, on electronics, on transportation, on buildings and houses, etc. In this way, girls will understand the importance of STEM subjects and will want to be a part of them.
In conclusion, girls are perfectly able to follow STEM careers as long as they are supported and encouraged by parents and teachers. They should know that in 21st century there is no thing as male careers!