What is gender equity? Gender equity is allowing females the same opportunities as their male counter parts in the classroom and beyond. As a female who was not encouraged to take advanced math and science, yet did, I am sensitive to gender balancing and the encouragement of females in science.
Involvement of females benefits all participating students. This practice shows fairness and collaboration among genders. In the fields of physical sciences, engineering and technology, women are still greatly under represented. Our work force contains a large number of females. If we are to compete in a world market, American women must be well trained in mathematical, scientific, and technological fields. Furthermore, in the article, "Gender Balance: Lessons from Girls in Science and Mathematics" by Ann Pollina, 10 ways to involve or motivate female students are mentioned. The steps are as follows:
• Connect mathematics, science, and technology to the real world.
• Use metaphors to relate concepts.
• Foster an atmosphere of true collaboration using small groups.
• Encourage girls to act as experts.
• Give girls the opportunity to be in the control of technology.
• Present technology as a way to solve problems as well as for fun.
• Capitalize on girls' verbal strengths.
• Experiment with testing and evaluation, such as embedded assessment.
• Give frequent feedback, and keep expectations high.
• Experiment with note-taking techniques.
In a May 11, 2005, article in the Science Daily, "Why Women Shy Away From Careers in Science", it states that girls were influenced by parents and teachers to pursue courses in advanced math and science, rather than their own aptitude toward those subjects. Girls tend to view science as a solitary position, but often scientists work in teams solving problems collaboratively. Over the years, my science classes have been asked to draw scientists; images are generally wild haired males in labs. In recent times, more females are being drawn by students.
Does gender equity mean that we over compensate for the past biases toward females? No, it means that we incorporate Pollina's 10 steps, call on males and females equally in class, and avoid situations that pit males against females. Middle school is the make-it or break-it years. Researchers are noticing that seventh and eighth grade years determine students' paths toward advanced courses in high school.
Our district has produced several females who have entered the engineering and medical fields in college. Our teachers have had the opportunity to work with programs such as "Arctic Change" and "GK- 12 projects," which allowed both male and female grad students in the classroom. Students realize scientists are not wild-eyed males working in a solitary lab. Science is for all students, and it is an active learning process. If students take an active part in their learning, the content will become more concrete.
Our district has allowed me to help make science more concrete by allowing me to take part in various grants, Region II's science collaborative, and teacher-to-ranger programs. These experiences have flowed over into the classroom, making science relevant and exciting.