Gender and Cultural Issues in Teaching science Blake, S. (1993). Are you turning female and minority students away from science? Science and Children, 31(4), 32-35. Trowbridge, L. W., Bybee, R. W., & Powell J. C. (2004). Teaching secondary school science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. • Have you ever experienced or seen gender or cultural biases in science classrooms? • Are these issues primarily historical? • To what extent are science teachers responsible for making their teaching culturally-relevant? Why are gender and cultural differences an issue for science teachers? • Achievement gaps (NAEP-National Assessment of Educational Progress – Pronounced differences between girls & boys by 13, larger by 17 – Significant differences between whites and minorities at all ages. • Females and minorities are underrepresented in science related professions. – Females have made huge strides in the biological sciences. • Females and minorities report less experience with science – Less exposure to topical science issues – Less practice with scientific devices and technology • Low income and minority students, on average, are more likely to have less qualified teachers. Disturbing Research Trends • Teachers call more frequently on males. • Teachers address males by name more frequently than females. • Teachers give males more time to answer questions. • Female and minority students tend to receive less teacher feedback. Research Continued… • Minorities are more likely to feel alienated or discouraged by teacher comments. • Minorities are less likely to feel personal relevance to science topics. • Male and Western cultural bias in problems and texts. • Competitive classroom environments tend to alienate females and some cultural groups. Possible explanations… • Males tend to call out (and act out) more than females. Therefore they are more likely to get teacher attention. • Teachers may grow to expect less in terms of performance and behavior from males and become harder on females. Females learn to disengage. Potential Sources of Bias • Teacher bias • Student bias • Course material bias • Parental bias • “The teacher handed back tests saying, ‘Boys, you are failing. These three pretty cookies are outscoring you guys on every test.’ He told the boys it was embarrassing for them to be beaten by a girl.” (1 of 3 girls in an AP physics class) • “There is one guy and he is really, really smart… and he kind of looks at me like I’m not supposed to be in the class…When I get a good mark on my test, I feel really good because I proved that I’m not stupid, that I can do it too.” (Female HS physics student) What can you do? • Choose activities and materials that are free from sexual or cultural stereotypes. • Ease the stress of competition. • Promote cooperative group work. • Use hands-on investigations. • Emphasize the practical applications of science and how it relates to student lives. • Give equal feedback to all. • Acknowledge contributions of female and minority students and scientists. • Use wait-time. • Maintain high expectations for all. • Carefully consider the resources you use. • Respect cultural differences.