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  • Writer's pictureAnna

Flashcards and Participation Gaps

How flashcards are reinforcing representation divides in STEM.

Two problems, one root.

There are not a lot of women in STEM.

In 2015, women constituted only 28 percent of workers in science & engineering occupations, although they accounted for half of the college educated workforce overall.

-National Science Foundation

There is a mismatch between what we think science is and what it actually is.

Problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, and a growth mindset are repeatedly cited as the top skills STEM professionals use in the workplace. But, science education often rewards immediate success and rote memorization. This means flashcards.

So how are these two connected?

Well, if science education rewards immediate success and rote memorization, it is implicitly devaluing failure (a required step of problem-solving) and creativity.

The problem with this is not only that these are some of the skills that STEM professionals say they use most often, but also that these are the things that research shows science education should be emphasizing to keep more girls in STEM.

What should educators and parents do?

Microsoft recently conducted a massive research study on the STEM gap, and assembled an action guide to help teachers and parents inspire and support the involvement of women in science.

As Microsoft found and the overnight success of goldieblox confirms:

Girls need hands-on experience, encouragement of failure, and role models to not only get them excited about STEM but also to give them the confidence they need to continue pursuing it despite a maelstrom of implicit bias and minority status throughout college and into the workforce.

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