Study: Girls Losing Ground In Pursuing STEM Education Opportunities

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File photo of a female scientist. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of a female scientist. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/GettyImages)

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CBSDC) - A new study has found that girls are shying away from pursuing math and science educations with increasing frequency.

Organizations such as the Association for Women in Science in Alexandria, Va. exist to foster community and support of females who go into the fields of math and science.

But all the same, school-age girls are demonstrating diminishing interests in what are referred to as STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – courses.

The report, which originated at the University of Sydney, saw an almost ten percent jump in girls declining from studying a form of math from 2001 to 2011, the website Phys.org learned. Additionally, only 13.8 percent of girls took a math or science subject for higher school certification in 2011.

University of Sydney senior lecturer Dr. Rachel Wilson referred to the findings of researchers John Mack and Barry Walsh as “shocking.”

“Something’s gone wrong there that you have nearly as much educational value put on community and family studies as you do on maths,” she was quoted as saying by the website. “The scores are down, the ranks are down with them, but the participation is looking really bad, so that means we’ve got a long path ahead of us to recover.”

Mack and Walsh also reportedly learned that the differences between STEM involvement of boys and girls are also increasing, as the latter continue to lose interest in the fields of study.

Wilson hypothesized to Phys.org regarding the source of the problem.

She said, “I don’t think it’s an issue of parenting … it’s of educational choice and quite possibly having too much of it.”

Dr. John Ainley, who serves as a principal research fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research, offered a potential solution – cultivating early interest.

“The early experience of engagement with science and mathematics is really important,” he was quoted as saying. “The crucial thing is not just to have novel things that catch people’s interest, but novel things that are built on in a sustained way.”

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