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Re-imagining futures in STEME

Girls in STEM: Overcoming challenges

Posted by Assoc. Prof. Linda Hobbs on October 16, 2019

How can we get more girls interested in STEM-related subjects and careers? We don’t need ALL girls to be interested, we just need more to change the landscape so that it is normal to say “Girls and Boys do STEM” and we can stop talking about needing more girls in STEM.

An article in Education Matters –


Six challenges are identified, and some solutions proposed:

Challenge 1: There is a disproportionate representation of females in STEM, limiting diversity in the workplace.

Challenge 2: Outdated and misinformed career advice can lead girls astray, limiting their future career choices and participation in a STEM-rich society.

Challenge 3: The wrong teachers may be teaching STEM subjects in secondary schools, limiting exposure to inspiring STEM-experienced teachers. While Australian teachers are highly qualified, there are no restrictions on which subjects they will be required to teach. A shortage of teachers with a background in STEM means we have relatively high levels of out-of-field teaching in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.

Challenge 4: Teachers face challenges in creating and implementing contemporary STEM curriculum, leading to a tendency to maintain the status quo of traditional siloed approaches to teaching Mathematics, Science and Technology.

Challenge 5: Unattractive STEM curriculum for girls, leading to poor engagement at school.

Challenge 6: Unattractive storyline of STEM careers, leading to poor STEM identity development.

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