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Closing the STEM Gender Gap

This was the headline from the March 2010 ASCD publication, Education Update.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  According to the article, 700 percent of all jobs will be created in STEM fields.  The article stressed the need for more females to be trained in STEM fields stating, “In 2007, women made up (only) 26 percent of mathematical and computer scientists and 11 percent of engineers.  As educators (we need) to think of new ways to engage girls in STEM classes”

I feel that we need to encourage all students, not just females to get involved with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Especially if 70 percent of the marketplace will be composed of these jobs.

What disturbs me is the emphasis on female involvement.  According to USA Today, 57% of all college attendees are female even though there are more men (15 million) than women (14.2) in the 18-24 year age group.  In addition most of the teachers in early childhood education are females.  One would think with the dominance of females in college and in elementary school classrooms, more young ladies would be majoring in STEM fields.

There was an outcry when Harvard President Lawrence Summers remarked that women might be underrepresented in sciences because of innate differences in ability.  There was an outcry when a 1992 report by the American Association of University Women entitled “How Schools Short-Change Girls”.

There has not been an outcry when more males dropout of high school and college resulting in a widening of a gender gap in educational achievement.  To state, as ASCD appears to be doing, that we need to encourage more females to enter fields, appears to me to be gender discrimination.

Full disclosure:  I am a male.

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