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Brian's Class Materials- FALL 2011 - SEYS 562

SEYS 562 Home

Queens College/CUNY
Education Unit
Fall 2011

Gender in the Science Classroom Quiz

Please choose true or false for each question and then think about how you will explain your answers. 

Note:  The purpose of this quiz is to promote discussion.  The answers are not cut and dried and depend on the individuals involved and the context of the situation.
        1. It is best to group children by gender in science classes.  For example, if you were doing a lab activity it would be best to put all girls in groups and all boys in their own groups.   COMMENT:  It is not usually a good idea to do this. What works better is to make sure everyone in a lab group has a substantive role.  This ensures that boys and girls will participate in hands-on activities and that some don't always get "stuck" recording data or watching.
        2. Girls tend to be called on by teachers more often in science classes.  COMMENT: A good strategy is to alternate asking boys and girls questions.  It has been noted in studies that boys are called on more often than girls in science classes. 
        3. In traditional science textbooks, males are pictured more often than females.  COMMENT: In the past there was a definite bias towards including more males in science textbooks.  Now this is improving but it is still something to watch when you are looking for a new text book.  Pay close attention to how the males and females are portrayed and what they are pictured as doing. 
        4. In traditional science textbooks, females are pictured doing more complex science tasks than males.  COMMENT: False:  In the past in a science textbook,  a women might have been pictured cooking at a stove while a man is shown operating a computer or launching a rocket.
        5. Boys tend to have more opportunities to use computers than girls. COMMENT:   Boys tend to use computers more than girls and there are a variety of reasons for this.  In some schools boys actually have more access although this is changing since schools are getting more computer labs and computers in classrooms. 
        6. Boys are better than girls in the physical sciences and mathematics.  COMMENT: Not true at all.  In secondary schools boys and girls do equally well in science and math the differences start to appear as one moves through the pipeline.  What seems to happen is that many talented females lose interest in science and turn to other career choices. 
        7. Girls get better grades in science than boys in secondary school. COMMENT:   This is true in many schools. 
        8. Science teachers tend to favor boys in science class.  COMMENT: Sometimes this happens and a teacher may not even be aware that she or he is favoring one gender over another.  Many boys will demand attention and when a teacher begins to call on boys and girls equally, the boys may actually feel slighted. 
        9. Boys are more likely to have ADHD than girls.  COMMENT: ADHD is a whole can of worms that we won't deal with in this class.  Unfortunately, many boys are diagnosed with ADHD when the problem might lie elsewhere and be caused by ineffective and inappropriate teaching methods. 
        10. Most girls are treated differently from boys from an early age and this affects their interest and attitude towards science.  COMMENT: True.  Just think about the gifts you give to boys and girls from an early age.
        11. The numbers of males and female scientists are equal in most areas of science.  COMMENT: This is not true and this is a major reason why all science teachers need to pay attention to this issue. 
        12. A teacher should have high expectations for all students, both male and female. COMMENT: This is definitely true.  Students will perform up to your expectations.  At times teachers will give female students praise for an answer to a lower level question and then have higher expectations for a male student, and ask the male student a more challenging question.  
        13. The numbers of females receiving graduate degrees in the Physical Sciences in increasing each year.  COMMENT:  "The number of master's degrees earned by women rose more rapidly than for men since 1990. By 2002, women earned 44 percent of S&E and 63 percent of non-S&E master's degrees, up from 34 and 58 percent, respectively, in 1990."  Source: information on doctoral degrees can be found here.  In spite of the fact that the numbers of women receiving degrees in science is increasing, males still greatly outnumber females in the science and engineering professions. 
        14. Women are more intelligent than men. COMMENT: The statement is ridiculous and irrelevant for science teachers.  Intelligence is an artifact created by psychologists and psychometricians and there is no consensus on how it can be objectively measured.  Needless to say, all students can learn, and both males and females can excel in science. 
In the past few years, there has been a great deal of discussion on the remarks made by the former president of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers.  Check the following link to read about the controversy:

Summers on Women in Science