In science education, there’s a worrying paradox that persists: despite consistently outperforming boys in exams, girls are more likely to lack confidence. Recently published research from Teach First showed that 42% of girls surveyed lacked confidence in science, compared to 25% in boys.
The statistics speak volumes: across the UK, girls consistently achieve higher grades in science-related subjects at the secondary level. Yet, when it comes to participation in STEM careers and further education, they remain significantly underrepresented. This disparity could be explained by this lack of confidence and self-belief instilled in girls from a young age.
So, what can we, as educators, do to bridge this confidence gap?
Firstly, it's crucial to create a supportive and inclusive classroom environment where all students feel valued and encouraged to participate. Our partner schools asked their students to explain why they are confident in science, with some saying:
Actively challenging gender stereotypes and biases in science can help break down barriers and empower girls to embrace their capabilities fully. In our Science Mastery subject excellence programme, you will find ‘Scientist in the Spotlight’ activity worksheets that showcase a wide range of scientists working today.
Despite the slow progress and bleak stats around the confidence of girls in science, we are starting to see positive change. Simply asking students why they are confident, showing our high expectations of them will hopefully inspire the next generation of women in STEM.