CHALLENGES INHIBITING THE PARTICIPATION OF GIRLS IN STEM EDUCATION: A CASE OF 5 A- LEVEL SCHOOLS IN GWANDA CENTRAL Dube B, Nkomo D & Nyama C STRUCTURE OF THE PRESENTATION • • • • • • • • BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM RESEARCH QUESTIONS PURPOSE OF THE STUDY METHODOLOGY FINDINGS CONCLUSIONS RECOMMENDATIONS BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY • In Zimbabwe and other developing countries, a notable gender gap exists in STEM Education. • The performance of girls in science education suffers considerably from expectations and influences of society (Boilock, 2010) • The patriarchal nature of communities tends to stifle the rights of the girl child. • The gendered experiences that babies are exposed to at early stages of their lives tend to influence their future careers (Tenenbaum, Snow, Roach & Kurland, 2005) • Educational attainment of parents also contributes to the subject uptake of children (Simpkins, Davis- keom & Eccles, 2006). Background (ctd) • Boilock (2010) : a highly math- anxious female teacher can influence girls’ achievement in Maths. • Depressed self confidence and self esteem creates disinterest in the subject and eventually drop out (Stake, 2006). • Teaching strategies that suit the learning of girls need to be adopted (Ogunkola & Olatoye, 2005). • Global trends have led to paradigm shifts pertaining to quality and equity issues • In Zimbabwe, no policy biased to the girl child’s education in sciences exists Statement of the problem • The girl child has traditionally been perceived as having subdued participation in areas that require highly specialized technical and cognitive abilities. • This has influenced lack of sustained performance and eventual success in academic practices they engage in, particularly science education. • In view of this ,one wonders what actually militates against participation of girls in STEM education in Gwanda Central High Schools. Research questions • Which teaching strategies are adopted in delivering STEM education in order to foster participation of the girl child? • What available learning resources and equipment enhance the participation of girls in STEM education? • What support programmes or services are provided to improve the learning of the girl child in the science subjects? • To what extent do administrative policies guide the participation of the girls in STEM education? • How do perceptions of teachers, parents and students influence participation by gender? Purpose of the study • Assess the teaching strategies adopted in teaching STEM education to girls. • Evaluate the availability, relevancy and adequacy of resources and equipment that necessitates participation of girls in STEM Education. • Establish support programmes and services that are in place to improve the involvement of the girl child in STEM education. • Examine the extent to which availed policies give guide to the participation of girls in STEM education. • Analyze perceptions of teachers, students and parents in influencing participation of girls in science education. Methodology • This study adopted a case study design of the qualitative approach. • The case study design is intended to afford the researcher to study contemporary phenomena within its real life context and to use multiple sources of evidence (Yin, 1984). • This strategy allows for the collection of data that can be presented through themes and statistical analysis (Creswell, 2005). Methodology (ctd) • Mixed questionnaires and focus group discussion were used to obtain data. • The population of study comprised heads of schools, teachers and students in the five Gwanda Central High Schools. • A convenient-purposive sampling technique was used to draw a sample for the study. • The sample constituted twenty five(25) science educators, five(5) Heads of schools and fifty(50) female students Findings • There are no peculiar teaching strategies that are biased to the participation and achievement of the girl child in STEM education • Some administrators play an exclusive role of selecting subjects for A-level students, while students, teachers and parents play a passive role. • The available science laboratories have limited modern equipment and resources to cater for all learners, girls inclusive. • Lack of science centres has an influence on the performance of girls in STEM education. Findings (ctd) • Support services and programmes such as career guidance and counseling are availed in schools, however, there are not particular to STEM education. • The cultural ceiling phenomenon in the society has an impact on the participation of girls in STEM education. • Girls are made to believe that they cannot pursue particular studies that seem inappropriate for their gender. The masculine image of science escalates their belief. • There is a dearth of regulatory measures aimed at supporting the girl child towards STEM education. Conclusions • • • • Girls, like their male counterparts, have a capacity to participate and achieve exceedingly in STEM education. However, relevant stakeholders need to consider the following factors: Implementation of teaching strategies that are commensurate to the needs of the girl child. Provision of adequate and suitable learning resources and equipment. Provision of viable policies and legislation skewed towards achievement of girls in Science education. Advocacy aimed at sensitizing or changing the mindset of communities towards the competencies of the girl child. Recommendations • The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should establish and staff develop teachers on strategies that improve participation of girls in STEM education. • Recruitment and selection of A- level students should involve critical stakeholders and ensure that gender equity and equality issues are addressed. • The Ministry of Primary and Secondary education should increase the pool of girls studying sciences by offering educational scholarships to girls engaged in this field. • The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should source funding from Government and Non- Governmental organizations to establish vibrant science centres, at least one per district. Recommendations (ctd) • Interested parties should increase career guidance programmes and services aimed at sensitizing and encouraging the girl child to study sciences at A-level. • Communities should design and implement advocacy and sensitization programmes through available media to deal with dysfunctional cultural beliefs on the participation of the girl child in the sciences. • Government policies and regulatory measures should be more supportive to all efforts aimed at increasing the participation of girls in STEM education. References • • • • • • • Adya, M., Kaiser, K.M. (2005). Early determinants of women in the IT workforce: A model of girls’ career choices, Information Technology and people,18, 230- 259 Buck, G. A. (2002). Teaching discourses: Science teachers’ responses to the voices of adolescent girls. Learning Environment Research,5,29- 50 Britner, S. L. & Pajares, J. (2006). Sources of science self- efficacy benefits of middle school students, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43, 485- 499 Creswell, J. W. (2005) Educational Research, Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. 2nd edition. Pearson Education International. New Jersey. Hannock, B. (2002). Trend Focus for research and development in Primary health care: An Introduction to Qualitative Research. University of Nottingham: Division of General practice. Hendricks, C. (2006). Improving Schools through Action Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Educators. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Johnson, B. and Christensen, L. (2008). Educational Research (3rd ed): Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Approaches. London: Sage.