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STEM and Gender: Internships and Research



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With support from the Motorola Solutions Foundation and guidance from NAPE, EdLab, and Sally Ride Science, two excellent research and tutorial resources are available: a  white paper report on femininity and STEM, along with an online research clearinghouse that summarizes the key studies in this area.
 Educator internships also available.

Studies show that girls do as well or better in STEM than their male counterparts, right up until late adolescence and early teens – the “gender intensification” period, when attention to traditional feminine norms accelerates, and belief in them solidifies. This can be particularly so for girls in low-income communities, where feminine ideals are often particularly narrow, and penalties for transgressing them harsh.


Researchers and theorists are beginning to suspect that STEM drop-offs may be directly linked to internalizing more narrow feminine norms as girls age: specifically, the idea that being feminine, and being good at things like technology or engineering, are just mutually incompatible.  Our field has done a great job of addressing external and interpersonal barriers to STEM achievement, like lack of role models, chilly classroom climate, teacher bias, and stereotype threat.  Yet it may be that girls’ own belief systems are an overlooked and understudied part of crafting more effective solutions.