How schools discourage some girls from pursuing STEM

Young women from historically marginalized populations are frequently excluded from science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) opportunities because of low expectations by teachers and family members, argues Kimberly Scott, associate professor at ASU’s School of Social Transformation and executive director of CompuGirls.

In a Future Tense article for Slate, Scott describes how schools continue to “code and treat” young women of color, assuming based on outmoded stereotypes that these young women are deviant “not-learners” who are unable to excel in STEM fields.

Scott’s CompuGirls program, founded at ASU in 2007, offers multimedia courses for teenage girls from high-need urban and rural areas. The girls are admitted in groups of 10 to 40 and they navigate three courses in which they create a digital research project around a social or community issue.

“Although we may sound like a computer science endeavor, our main focus is self-development. We help girls envision their futures beyond what other social institutions – such as school – may imagine for them,” writes Scott. “We trust them to shift their identities from those negative images to more empowered shades of their selves. We put into practice this belief and give them access to cutting-edge software and hardware, encouraging them to take on time-consuming projects.”

To learn more about CompuGirls, the structural barriers facing women entering STEM education and young women’s potential to harness technology and become “technosocial change agents,” read the full article at Future Tense.

Future Tense is a collaboration among ASU, the New America Foundation and Slate magazine that explores how emerging technologies affect policy and society.

Article source: Slate magazine

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