Category Archives: gender issues in tech

Video: Girls (and boys) and STEM

Sylvia Martinez is the guest on this Jan 12, 2017 recording of an interactive webinar with Edtech Interactive dived into the subject of gender and STEM. Hosted by Mitch Weisburgh on a fun platform called Shindig, the session includes several audience members sharing how they encourage diversity and inclusion in their STEM programs.

January 12, Girls (and Boys) and STEM with Sylvia Martinez

Topics:

  • What assumptions are we all making that inhibit girls from pursuing and thriving in STEM careers?
  • How can we take advantage of the differences between male and female approaches, skills, and aptitudes in STEM?
  • How do we strengthen the STEM <–> Playfulness connection?
  • What gender-inclusive practices can we all embrace?

See other EdTech Interactive webinars

FETC session on Girls and STEM – Orlando, January 26, 2017

Girls and STEM – ISTE 2016 presentation

These are the slides from my ISTE 2016 presentation “Girls & STEM: Making it Happen.”

Martinez girls and stem ISTE 2016 (PDF)

Resources

Maker

Invent To Learn

MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing (Intel infographic)

Power, Access, Status: The Discourse of Race, Gender, and Class in the Maker Movement

Leah Buechley – Gender, Making, and the Maker Movement (video from FabLearn 2013)

Associations

National Girls Collaborative Project (links to many others)

National Council of Women and Informational Technology

American Association of University Women

Unesco International Bureau of Education (IBE)  – Multiple resources such as: Strengthening STEM curricula for girls in Africa, Asia and the Pacific10 Facts about Girls and Women in STEM in Asia

WISE (UK) – campaign to promote women in science, technology, and engineering

My posts about gender issues, stereotype threat, and other topics mentioned in this session

HOW TO COURSE CORRECT STEM EDUCATION TO INCLUDE GIRLS

LET’S STOP LYING TO GIRLS ABOUT STEM CAREERS

Stereotype Threat – Why it matters

Inclusive Makerspaces (article for EdSurge)

What a Girl Wants: Self-direction, technology, and gender

Self-esteem and me (a girl) becoming an engineer

Research

Securing Australia’s Future STEM: Country Comparisons – Australian Council of Learned Academies

Generation STEM:  What girls say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – Girl Scouts of the USA (2012) (Girls 14-17)

Effective STEM Programs for Adolescent Girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned

Women’s underrepresentation in science: Sociocultural and biological considerations. (2009)

Gresham, Gina. “A study of mathematics anxiety in pre-service teachers.” Early Childhood Education Journal 35.2 (2007): 181-188.

Beilock, Sian L., et al. “Female teachers’ math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.5 (2010): 1860-1863.

Teachers’ Spatial Anxiety Relates to 1st- and 2nd-Graders’ Spatial Learning

Statistics

National Center for Educational Statistics

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

See you at ISTE 2016!


This June the International Society of Technology in Education is having a conference in Denver, CO. ISTE 2016 will have over ten thousand attendees, endless vendor exhibits and sessions about all aspects of educational technology.

Hope to see you there!

Pre-conference Invent To Learn Workshop

Sunday June 26, 9-3 PM – Don’t miss this amazing event!

Make It, Wear It, Learn It  [Lecture]

  • Monday, June 27, 2:30–3:30 pm MDT (Mountain Daylight Time)
  • Building/Room: (specific location will be available in May)

Girls & STEM: Making it Happen  [Lecture]

  • Wednesday, June 29, 8:30–9:30 am MDT (Mountain Daylight Time)
  • Building/Room: (specific location will be available in May)

Mindsets and Classroom Management for Making and Inventing in Every Classroom  [Panel]

  • Wednesday, June 29, 10:15–11:15 am MDT (Mountain Daylight Time)
  • Building/Room: (specific location will be available in May)

How to Course Correct STEM Education to Include Girls

This article appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of EdTech K-12 magazine and online on their website.

How to Course Correct STEM Education to Include Girls

Introduce the real world and change the conversation.

In a perfect world, all people would have equal opportunity to achieve their professional goals. But the reality is not perfect for women in the workforce.

In many science, technology, engineering and math fields, especially in engineering and programming, women are under­represented: While they represent half of all college-educated workers in the U.S., they made up just 28 percent of science and engineering workers in 2010 — an increase from 21 percent in 1993, according to the National Science Board’s 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators report.

Trace back down the pipeline to STEM in K–12 and the facts don’t get any cheerier: Girls are called on less often by teachers, are seen as not understanding math (even when they get better grades and test scores than boys) and are overlooked for slots in STEM academies and special programs. They may stop seeing themselves as being good at science and math as they move into middle school, where students begin to develop the skills they need for STEM majors and careers.

Girls do have one interesting advantage — they are typically better at a wider range of things than are boys. Girls who get good grades in math and science tend to get good grades in other subjects too, while boys tend to get good grades in only one area. For boys, that focus may translate into a stronger push toward a career in STEM; if you have fewer choices, you concentrate on making them count.

So when we complain that there is a “leaky pipeline” in K–12 education for girls in STEM courses, we should acknowledge that it isn’t necessarily a matter of discrimination or systemic bias. Girls are choosing not to major in STEM subjects for the very sensible reason that they have more options.

But this “choice” is also influenced by the prospect of discrimination down the line.

‘Why would you choose to go into a field that doesn’t want you?’

In a study by Girl Scouts of the USA (“Generation STEM”), 57 percent of all girls say that “if they went into a STEM career, they’d have to work harder than a man just to be taken seriously.” And African-American and Hispanic girls are more aware of this than Caucasian girls. (Also from “Generation STEM”: “Half of African American girls (compared to 38 percent of Caucasian girls) agree with the statement: ‘Because I am female, I would NOT be treated equally by the men I studied/worked with if I pursued a career in STEM.’ ”)

Why would you choose to go into a field that doesn’t want you? Painting a false happy-talk picture of “you can be anything you want to be” is simply wishful thinking at best, and lying at worst. The leaky pipeline leads into a leaky bucket that any sane person might choose to avoid.

Of course, we want to fix this — not just give up. That first requires tackling how we talk, then integrating technology and engineering in the appropriate ways at the earliest grade levels possible.

Many schools have found success in helping more girls through STEM courses. We know what works: role models, mentors, encouragement and special opportunities. But schools can do more to make STEM courses more accessible for all students.

Introduce real-world topics, real research, real projects, real tools and tangible technology to STEM subjects. That attracts not only girls but any students who are uninterested in dry textbook science.

Change the Curriculum to Expand Experience

Girls say that science is interesting because it helps people and makes the world a better place. Feed that passion by giving students opportunities to do science that matters, not just study about science.

Finding ways to incorporate conductive paint and e-textiles into an electronics lesson is not pandering to girls but expanding the onboarding experience for STEM to more students across the board.

The facts about gender discrimination are depressing, but that isn’t a reason to hide them from young people. They deserve to know the truth (at the appropriate level). Because guess who can fix it? They can. Girls and boys are our only hope if we’re to change the landscape of opportunity, and we have to give them the facts and enlist them in the effort.

These problems won’t be fixed by pumping more water into a leaky bucket; they can only be solved when people clearly identify the issues and work together to solve them.

While changing deeply embedded culture and established curriculum may seem like an impossible challenge, it’s something that simply has to be done.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Be mindful of your own behavior and try to open learning invitations to all students. In particular, talk with young people about stereotypes and how to overcome them.
  • Address issues of discrimination in your own settings, quickly and fairly. What you do as the adult in the classroom, and in the hallway, gym, faculty lounge and office, matters.
  • Look for opportunities to bring stories of discrimination (at appropriate levels) to students to discuss. What do they think?
  • Offer experiences in STEM courses that build on student interests and culture. Find ways to use STEM to solve real problems that young people care about.
  • Don’t talk only to girls about these issues. It’s not a “girls’ problem.” Enlist boys and men in making changes. Use resources like “Ways to Increase Male Advocacy in Gender Diversity Efforts” from the National Council on Women & Information Technology and adapt for your own setting.

Addressing micro-inequalities with micro-justice

A recent piece at Medium.com supports my argument that the “girls-in-STEM-issue” is more complex than just getting more girls to like science in school. “If you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention

It’s a very smart piece about this complex topic. I think the only thing I faintly disagree with is saying that “..leaders have to get rid of employees who engage in sexist or racist behavior” – I think that’s too late. It will be perceived as unfair and harsh, with bounceback attitudes that actually strengthen biases (“…women are too touchy – and now Joe lost his job…”).
I read an article the other day where a woman said every time she walked into the computer science building at college, people (nice well-meaning people) asked her if she was lost. Put yourself in her shoes. If you complain about that, it just sounds petty – but every time it happens it’s just another straw on the camel’s back that adds up to a clear message – you (and your ideas) aren’t welcome or wanted here.
Every woman I know has stories of the “micro inequalities” (NCWIT’s term) that add up to the feeling of not belonging.
The only thing I’ve seen work in the various workplaces I’ve been in is to strive to address ALL instances of sexist or racist behavior and language immediately and with fair, appropriate consequences.
In short, it takes vigilant leadership to create a consistent culture. For example, when meetings are fair, it’s because the expectation is that they are fair! Not sometimes fair, not that people apologize later, nor are things laughed off as being “no big deal”. The expectation is set every minute of every meeting – and especially not in some once a year “training”. Interruptions are not tolerated, language that denigrates anyone is corrected, and it happens in the moment. It’s too late if you only fix the headline-grabbing, egregious acts of discrimination.
The only solution to these “micro-inequalities” is “micro-justice”. Everyone at every level has to walk the talk and when incidents happen, no matter how small they are, no matter if they happen in the boardroom, the hallway, or the cafeteria, they must be handled in the moment with consistent corrections or restatements.
As far as how to do this, I just did a session at ISTE about Girls and STEM – collected a bunch of resources and am still working on writing up the gist of what I said. Slides and resources here.
One resource that I liked but didn’t have time to show at ISTE  (but I saved a summary of it in the slide deck, slides 29 & 30) – Top 10 Ways To Be a Male Advocate for Technical Women
I think we need to more actively recruit MEN into this by explicitly telling them what needs to change and what they can do. If we treat this as a “women problem”, men just think they should lean back and wait for women to “do something”. Men and women, boys and girls ALL need to be informed and empowered to do anything, and especially to know how to react to and fix the small things.
Consistent, caring cultures are built on “micro-justice” – fairly applied, consistently handled, and constantly reinforced both in words and deeds.

Let’s stop lying to girls about STEM careers

We all want girls (and all young people) to have equal opportunity and to be whatever they want to be. But the reality is grim. Women are discriminated against in the workforce. They are paid less than men, promoted less, and listened to less. It’s not “perception” – it’s the hard truth. (See the research here.)  And it’s worse in many STEM careers, especially in engineering and programming. In college, women are discriminated against in courses, grading, and in getting mentorships that are so important for advanced degrees.

Trace back down this pipeline to K-12 and the facts don’t get any happier. Girls are called on less often by teachers, are seen as not understanding math even when they get (generally) better grades and test scores than boys, and not selected as often for STEM slots in academies and special programs.

But girls have an advantage — they are typically better at a wider range of things than boys. Girls who get good grades in math and science get good grades in other subjects too, whereas boys tend to get good grades in one area. Girls who score well on tests in math and science tend to also score well in language, history, and other subjects.

So when we complain there is a “leaky pipeline” in K-12 education for girls in STEM courses, it’s not just discrimination. Girls are choosing to not major in STEM subjects for the very reasonable reason that they have more options.

Why would you choose to go into a field that doesn’t want you? Painting a false happy-talk picture of “you can be anything you want to be” is simply wishful thinking. And really, let’s call it like it is, it’s lying.

Lying to kids is bad. Lying makes kids distrust adults and strangles the most important educational tool of all, a relationship of trust between educators and young people. Even when the lie hides harsh reality, even when we wish it weren’t true, it’s better to speak the truth — and then work to fix it.

Now – am I saying that we should tell girls to just give up? No. I’m saying we have to tell girls AND BOYS the truth. That there is unfairness and discrimination in the world. We should tell them because they deserve the truth. We should tell them because they should (and will) be appalled. We should tell them because it gives them a chance to think about how it should be different. And then we should teach them how to make the world a fairer place, starting today.

Because guess who can fix it – they can. Girls AND boys are the only hope that this changes, and we have to give them the facts and enlist them in the effort.

It’s not like they don’t know it already. In a Girls Scouts study, (Generation STEM), “… 57% of all girls say that if they went into a STEM career, they’d have to work harder than a man just to be taken seriously.” And African American and Hispanic girls are more aware of this than Caucasian girls. (Also from Generation STEM, “Half (50%) of African American girls (compared to 38% of Caucasian girls) agree with the statement: “Because I am female, I would NOT be treated equally by the men I studied/ worked with if I pursued a career in STEM.”’)

THEY KNOW….

These problems can’t be solved by sweeping them under the rug; they can only be solved when people clearly identify the issues and work TOGETHER to solve them.

What educators can do:

  • Arm yourself with the facts. I pulled together some resources for my ISTE session, Girls & STEM: Making It Happen
  • Talk with young people about stereotype threat, what it means, and how to overcome it.
  • Don’t just talk to girls about these issues – boys need to understand them too. The solutions must come from everywhere.
  • Boys and men are not “to blame” for how society treats women. It’s a long-standing issue, but one that can be changed by everyone working together.
  • Tell inspiring stories of women and girls – but also of men and boys who overcome obstacles and odds stacked against them.
  • This is not a “woman issue”. Use resources like: Ways to Increase Male Advocacy in Gender Diversity Efforts from the National Council on Women in Technology (NCWIT) and adapt for your own setting.
  • Address issues of discrimination in your own settings quickly and fairly. What you do (as the adult in the room) matters. But not just in the classroom, also in the hallway, gym, faculty lounge, conference stage, and offices.
  • Be mindful of your own behavior and try as much as possible to open the learning invitations to all students.
  • Look for opportunities to bring stories of discrimination (at appropriate levels) to students to discuss. What do they think, how do they feel about it, what do they want to change?

 

Girls & STEM: Making It Happen – resources

Resources for my ISTE 2015 presentation:

Girls & STEM: Making it Happen Tuesday, June 30, 4:00–5:00 pm Sylvia Martinez PCC Ballroom B

July 2, 2015 – Updated with slides!

Other ISTE events

Citations and other resources mentioned in this presentation

Maker

Invent To Learn

MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing (Intel infographic)

Power, Access, Status: The Discourse of Race, Gender, and Class in the Maker Movement

Leah Buechley – Gender, Making, and the Maker Movement (video from FabLearn 2013)

Associations

National Girls Collaborative Project (links to many others)

National Council of Women and Informational Technology

American Association of University Women

Unesco International Bureau of Education (IBE)  – Multiple resources such as: Strengthening STEM curricula for girls in Africa, Asia and the Pacific10 Facts about Girls and Women in STEM in Asia

WISE (UK) – campaign to promote women in science, technology, and engineering

My posts about gender issues, stereotype threat, and other topics mentioned in this session

Stereotype Threat – Why it matters

Inclusive Makerspaces (article for EdSurge)

What a Girl Wants: Self-direction, technology, and gender

Self-esteem and me (a girl) becoming an engineer

Research

Securing Australia’s Future STEM: Country Comparisons – Australian Council of Learned Academies

Generation STEM:  What girls say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – Girl Scouts of the USA (2012) (Girls 14-17)

Effective STEM Programs for Adolescent Girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned

Women’s underrepresentation in science: Sociocultural and biological considerations. (2009)

Gresham, Gina. “A study of mathematics anxiety in pre-service teachers.” Early Childhood Education Journal 35.2 (2007): 181-188.

Beilock, Sian L., et al. “Female teachers’ math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.5 (2010): 1860-1863.

Teachers’ Spatial Anxiety Relates to 1st- and 2nd-Graders’ Spatial Learning

Statistics

National Center for Educational Statistics

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

ISTE 2015: Ready for Making?

ISTE 2015 will be June 27-July 1 in Philadelphia, PA. This is an annual “big event” for technology loving educators, with upwards of 15,000 attendees and a huge vendor floor for new edu-gizmos and gadgets.

Two years ago, the word “maker” was barely found on the ISTE program. I believe that my session and Gary Stager’s were the only ones! But in recent years, more and more educators have found that the mindset of the “maker movement” resonates with them. New materials can invigorate project-based learning, and the global maker community is a vibrant learning space that inspires and surprises.

This year’s schedule has a wide array of opportunities to learn more or get started with “making” in the classroom. There’s even a search filter for the topic. Select “Constructivist Learning/ Maker Movement” and 63 sessions, posters, and workshops appear! That’s like a billion trillion percent increase over a couple of years (I swear! Do the math! OK… maybe I’m exaggerating, but it’s because I’m excited this is getting so much attention.)

Search for yourself (select from the Focus/Topic on the left)

So, no need for me to make a list of all these sessions like I’ve done in past years – but here are my and Gary’s events at ISTE. Come find me and say hi!

My events and sessions

Sunday June 28

** Update – SOLD OUT – sorry! 🙁 ** – Gary Stager and I will be hosting a day called “Making, Learning, Fun!” from 9AM – 3PM at Maggiano’s Little Italy (2 blocks from the Conference Center) with fabulous maker activities, great food, and a free copy of the new book “The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun”.  Don’t miss out – very limited space! Click here.

Monday June 29

The Maker Movement: A Global Revolution Goes to School Monday, June 29, 2:30–3:30 pm Sylvia Martinez  PCC Ballroom A

LOL@ISTE Again: Yes, This Will Be on the Test! Monday, June 29, 8:30–9:30 am Cathie Norris, Elliot Soloway, Gary Stager, Michael Jay, Saul Rockman, Sean McDonough

Making, Love and Learning Monday, June 29, 11:00 am–12:00 pm Gary Stager

Is It Time to Give Up on Computers in Schools? Monday, June 29, 12:45–1:45 pm Audrey Watters, David Thornburg, Gary Stager, Wayne D’Orio, Will Richardson

Tuesday June 30

Girls & STEM: Making it Happen Tuesday, June 30, 4:00–5:00 pm Sylvia Martinez PCC Ballroom B

Mobile Learning Playground: Block Party at the Makerspace Tuesday, June 30, 9:30 am–1:00 pm
I’ll be there from 11AM – 11:30 AM talking about “Getting Started with Making in the Classroom”

See you there!

FabLearn Fellows – maker teachers making it work

This past year I’ve had the immense privilege of working as a mentor to the FabLearn Fellows, an NSF funded program in association with the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education.

The 2014/2015 FabLearn Fellows cohort is a diverse group of 18 educators and makers. They represent eight states and five countries, and work with a wide range of ages at schools, museums, universities and non-profits. Throughout the course of the year, they will develop curriculum and resources, as well as contribute to current research projects. Their blogs represent their diverse experience and interests in creating better educational oportunities for all.

January in the FabLearn Fellows blogs saw a wide variety of philosophical and practical ideas. As “making” in the classroom becomes more mainstream, it’s important to think about the role of the teacher/leader in creative, hands-on classrooms and educational spaces. In these posts, we can see that teachers are planners, observers, catalysts, researchers, yearners, gurus, thinkers, and yes – makers! It’s such a colorful palette of roles when compared to the perception of the teacher as a content delivery system and classroom manager.

Just in Time Teacher Learning by Heather Pang – “The bigger take-away for me, as I help students with their projects is that I don’t need to know how to do everything before we start, and I will learn a great deal as we go.  And so will the students.”

“Technological Disobedience” in Cuba and informal making education by Susan Klimczak – This video on “Technological Disobedience” in Cuba complements recent FabLearn Fellows conversations about decentering making, makers, and maker education.

Making Code Real – Keith Ostfeld, a FabLearn Fellow in a museum, thinks about how coding works in his informal education context.

“Making” in California K-12 Education: A brief state of affairs – David Malpica explores the current state of maker education in public K-12 education in California. Looking at funding, standards, and support organizations creates a fuller picture of the myriad pieces of the puzzle that make up public education policy in these areas.

“Why I am not a Maker” by Debbie Chachra: Toward problematizing what it means to be a “Maker” – Susan Klimczak shares an article questioning the identity of “maker” as celebrating only those who make things, and whether that devalues people who have interests and jobs without tangible products. She connects this to the contributions of Dr. Nettrice Gaskins and Dr. Leah Buechley in questioning Silicon Valley’s interest in “making” as a generator of innovative products.

Rwanda maker interest – I shared a post by a friend traveling in Rwanda about the potential for makerspaces there. The comments, both online and off, connected several of the Africa-based FabLearn Fellows with her with suggestions, contacts, and resources. It’s a small world after all!

The Role & Rigor of Self-Assessment in MakerEd In this three part post, Christa Flores discusses various assessment techniques with the student at the center that work with PBL and maker programs.

Molds and Molding by Gilson Domingues with Pietro Domingues. These three practical posts offer reasons and instructions on making and using molds to reproduce small objects with detail and precision.

Collaborative work in the classroom with etherpad Mario Parade explains how to use an open source software tool called Etherpad for students and teachers to collaborate and document work.

Intel MakeHers Report: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing – Juliet Wanyiri shares a new report on girls and making.

Hey Kids – Follow the Directions! – Aaron Vanderwerff asks, does following directions mean you aren’t really making?

Toward Making Change: Beyond #BlackLivesMatter – Two posts by Susan Klimczak document a collaborative project at the South End Technology Center @ Tent City supported by the Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean’s Equity Project.

An interesting article on “Culturally responsive computing: a theory revisited” – Susan Klimczak shares an article that supports a recurring theme among the FabLearn Fellows and at the Fab Learn Conference of how to put youth of color, young women and youth living in families with low incomes at the center of the maker education movement.

Sequencing activities to support discovery – Erin Riley provides a thoughtful yet practical analysis of several activities that served to build skills all while leading to more open, exploratory projects. Is it possible to provide an environment where students can find their own way creatively, all the while gaining specific skills?

Where the circle overlaps, thinking about the “A” in STEAM by Erin Riley – “STEAM supporters believe STEM should be updated to include creativity, innovation and aesthetics. Are we thinking of this like a Venn diagram, merging form (from the artistic side) to function (from the scientific side) or an extra component to add to the mix, enhancing work in STEM?”

Stay tuned for more!

Free e-book! Best of EML 2014

click to go to download site
Free e-book

I’m honored to have an article included in Educating Modern Learner’s compilation of their Best of 2014 articles. Even better, it’s available for free as a lovely e-book!

Educating Modern Learners is a new website created to help every school leader become better informed to make better, more relevant decisions for the children they serve in this new, modern world of learning.

My article, What a Girl Wants, is included in this e-book, along with 13 other terrific essays and analysis of current education practice and policy.

Click on the image to go to the EML download page, and while you are there, consider signing up for a subscription!