Why Do Women Avoid Chemistry Sets?

On one of the OLDaily blogs, I found this research article that discussed how women aovid science related fields.  It begins by reiterating the fact that women are overrepresented in fields like education and health sciences.   Women in Canada are now more likely  than women to continue their education after high school, but very few choose a major outside of education or health sciences.  Statistics show that 34% of women and 21% of men earned a university degree, but 18% of women still earned less than men in 2001.

In terms of cognitive abilities, boys and girls show no difference in analysis skills, so the problem may come from their social upbringing and biological factors surrounding them.  The article suggests that parents are more likely to explain scientific concepts to boys than girls.  This may have something to do with what roles society gives to boys and girls and these tell parents what is considered okay for their sons and daughters.   Also, these little paragraphs may shed some light on the subject of parent influence:

Parental use of teaching language has been shown to increase children’s conceptual understanding in the domain of science. Tenenbaum and Leaper speculate that if parents are using less cognitively-demanding language with their daughters, girls may be exposed to fewer opportunities to practice scientific problem solving. [6] As a result, girls may be less likely to develop self-confidence or interest in science.

Parents (especially mothers) encourage boys more than girls to participate in out-of-school science activities, such as playing with a chemistry set or a microscope. Science materials (e.g., books, games, or toys) are purchased more often for boys than for girls.[7]

Parent attitudes do have an effect on what their child like and does not like.  Children sometimes have a tendency to look for acceptance and appreciation from their parents and they will continue to search for something that gives them those two things until they get it.

One of the suggestions for parents were to ask their daughter about science class.  This takes on a neutral position of what they want for their daughter and provides a chance for them to gain some understanding about her interests.  Parents all have dreams for their children about what they would like to see them do, but we have to step back and let them explore their interests.

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