Confidence is All It Takes

By Aerin Shahman

women_in_stem.jpgConfidence.

Everyone has it in them. Whether it’s in academics, sports, activities, clubs or just mainly around people like your friends and family. School has always been a safe place to discover who you are, unless the curriculum is favored more to boys or to girls depending on the courses available.

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, in K-12 education, male students were more likely to take engineering courses by 3% to 1% for females, as well as computer science with boys at 7% to girls at 4%. Since there are subjects that are more of one gender dominated, some girls are less likely to study math and science subjects in universities because of social pressures and grades, since only 19% of women actually graduate with bachelor’s degree on engineering.

Does this have to do with the unsaid rules our society tell us to follow?

Should students study in a single-sex class in order for all students to learn any subject they enjoy without being judged or pressured by the opposite gender.

Although single-sex classes don’t actually affect they way students are taught, According to the GEA (Gender and Education Association) to have girls become more confident in science and math.

Furthermore, universities in America have tried to help girls who are interested in studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) step out of their comfort zone. Rice University has helped contribute a physics camp which helps girls prepare for going into STEM. Throughout the years, more and more girls are slowly becoming more intrigued which results in double the size of girls attending this camp from the previous year. This is because of the amount of exposure they are given to STEM is much more than what they would get normally or in school, which results in more girls being engrossed. Just from being in an all-girl environment, these girls feel empowered and feel as though they belong.

Not only do these type of opportunities help young girls figure out they’re capabilities regarding STEM, right here at our school, we offer programs that allow us to explore what we may be interested in. For example, we have a club called FemCode and a computer science class in which girls are free to join if they please. With giving more exposure to these classes at school, girls are able to gain more confidence to join the classes that they want to be involved in now and in the future. Giving these sorts of opportunities provides girls, people, a chance to do what they may love to do. Although, some people may out of place or feel as though they aren’t satisfactory or even up to par to where they have to be, all they need is just a little confidence boost from students who have previously done the class.

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has a program called International Student Assessment. This is a test that indicates teenagers around the world their abilities in math, reading and science. Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are the only countries in which boys feel less confident about math than girls. What happened to the rest of the world? According to the same study, in all the other countries tested, girls are more likely to think that they are helpless in solving a math problem.

This is absolutely ridiculous.

No one should think that they aren’t able to do assignments based on their level of knowledge, especially a girl who is just as capable of solving a math problem as a boy does.

This is just one small obstacle through your journey through self discovery. You shouldn’t be afraid of being not good enough. You are good enough.

Be confident. Take that risk.

 

Works Cited:

  1. Frawley, Timothy. “Gender bias in the classroom: current controversies and implications for teachers.” Childhood Education, vol. 81, no. 4, 2005, p. 221+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 1 Mar. 2018.
  2. Jackson, Carolyn. “Gender and Education Association.” GEA Gender and Education Association, 15 Jan. 2015, www.genderandeducation.com/resources-2/pedagogies/single-sex-classes/.
  3. Khazan, Olga. “The More Gender Equality, the Fewer Women in STEM.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 18 Feb. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/553592/.
  4. Khazan, Olga. “There Are Only 3 Countries Where Girls Feel More Comfortable With Math Than Boys.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 7 Mar. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/03/there-are-only-3-countries-where-girls-feel-more-comfortable-with-math-than-boys/284272/.
  5. Li, Fei-Fei. “11 TED Talks by Brilliant Women in STEM.” TED Talks, 2 Mar. 2015, www.ted.com/playlists/253/11_ted_talks_by_brilliant_wome?utm_content=buffer89352&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_campaign=buffer.
  6. Paechter , Carrie. “Gender and Education Association.” GEA Gender and Education Association, 15 Jan. 2015, www.genderandeducation.com/resources-2/pedagogies/curriculum/.
  7. Rhor, Monica. “Gender, Diversity Gaps Persist in STEM.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 7 Feb. 2018, www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/working-to-close-stem-s-gender-racial-gaps-12559143.php.

3 thoughts on “Confidence is All It Takes

  1. Amy JardenPopovich

    Be confident, take a risk! Embrace your mistakes because you learn from them. Great article Aerin thanks so much for sharing this with me. I’m so glad that you are encouraging young women to try out degrees in Math and Science.

  2. Emily Besley

    This is such an important topic, Aerin! The more aware we are of the overrepresentation of men and boys in the STEM subjects, the better able we will be to encourage more women and girls to pursue careers in science and mathematics. I was particularly interested in the idea of single-sex courses that you mentioned in your article. I had never heard of this practice, and it definitely made me think. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Drew Davis

    Great article Aerin! It’s interesting that most of the science awards in the years I have been here have gone to girls. But there have been a number of very talented students in my classes over the years who have lacked confidence and looking back, there were more girls like that than boys.
    I’ll definitely try to raise my game to boost confidence of my students. if you have ideas about how to do that please don’t hesitate to share them.

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