The Single Sex Debate for Girls in Science: A Comparison Between Two Informal Science Programs on Middle School Students’ STEM Identity Formation

October 1st, 2013 | RESEARCH

Currently, there are policy debates regarding the efficacy and legality of single sex formal and informal education programs. This issue is particularly poignant in science education due to the historical marginalization of women in these fields. This marginalization has resulted in women being positioned as a stigmatized group within many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields. Research points to adolescence as the age where this sense of marginalization begins to develop. As a result, policy responses have utilized various frameworks such as: increased access for women, changing pedagogy to address women’s learning styles, changing the language and culture of science to prevent marginalization of stigmatized groups, and finally exploring the role that individual identity plays in the marginalization of women. This study adds to the policy debate as it applies to single sex education by comparing middle school participants’ STEM identity formation during two informal science learning environments (an all girls’ STEM camp and a co-educational STEM camp). Additionally, this study focuses on the influence of camp activities within two informal science education programs: particularly the provision of role models and authentic STEM research activities, as means to improve STEM identity and make these fields relevant to the lives of middle school students. The results indicate that both camps improved girls’ STEM identities. These findings suggest that the single sex environment is not as important to STEM identity as the pedagogy used within the program.

Document

Hughes_Single_Sex_Debate.pdf

Team Members

Roxanne Hughes, Author, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

Citation

Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1007/s11165-012-9345-7

Publication: Research in Science Education
Volume: 13
Number: 5
Page(s): 1979

Related URLs

National High Magnetic Field Laboratory Center for Integrating Research and Learning

Tags

Access and Inclusion: Women and Girls
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Mathematics | Technology
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps