NSTA has been running informal polls of our members online and sharing the results — and your unvarnished comments — in NSTA Reports for about two years. One of the more interesting things I do as the paper’s editor is sift through the comments and share the mix of views educators expresson the given topic. Some I expect, others are enlightening. But someleave me, as a parent, concerned (for example, how can teachers of any subject supply their classrooms on $100 a year?).
Our September 2012 poll asked educators whether female students are outperformed by male students in science. Only a quarter of respondents indicated males were doing better in science classes in their school or district. A majority said they include lessons or other material to encourage girls to study, while 34% said their schools/districts had programs targeting girls’ participation in science.
But, as usual, it was the comments that got my attention! While many teachers stated they try to reach boys and girls equally, there were some who maintained that “hard-wired” gender differences account for discrepancies in performance. Others blamed cultural attitudes—”the yuck factor” and “science is for white boys” views—held in the local community for dissuading female (and non-white) students from pursuing science careers.
You can read more of the comments online. The comments leave me wondering. How tenuous are the advances in making science more accessible to all students? What do you think?