Equality in the Sciences

The Education Scotland Sciences 3-18 impact report stated as an ‘aspect for development’ in Scottish Sciences was that ‘staff in secondary schools need to recognise and act on gender imbalance in physics and the biology where it exists’
To support Science departments action this as part of their development needs The Institute of Physics (IOP) has produced a support pack that supports teachers in planning to encourage increased participation of girls studying Physics.
The misconceptions amongst some teachers regarding the implementations of addressing such imbalance is –
– that this would be at the detriment of boys into Physics, which is not the case as these programmes are looking at an increase in girls on top of existing numbers, not as a balance of existing class numbers
– Focussing on Girls is in itself gender biased. These programmes are about how teaching pedagogy can improve perceptions of the subject amongst girls without affecting the perceptions of boys. In short, teaching pedagogy in Physics education has in past been biased towards the interests and needs of boys without intending to do so.
Some stats –
5% of young people who took up modern apprenticeships in STEM careers last year via Skills Development Scotland were girls. (Scottish Resource Centre for Women in SET (2010))
73% of female STEM graduates do not continue in STEM careers in comparison to 48% of male STEM graduates. (http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/advice-papers/inquiry/women_in_stem/tapping_talents.pdf)
If gender equality in Sciences is part of your local, school or Science departmental improvement plans and you would like advice and support to use the resources then please contact Alison McLure of the IOP, Alison.McLure@iop.org.