Page 6 - FIS World November 2016
P. 6

Closing the Gender Gap
A look at how FIS is supporting the success of girls in STEM
It has long been recognized that men dominate the  elds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). A 2012 study by the Programme for International
Student Assessment (PISA), for example, reported that on average boys outperform girls globally in mathematics and science, and many more boys study STEM subjects beyond high school. Yet, some Asian countries, such as Singapore, buck the trend, showing that even at the highest levels of pro ciency, girls can perform as well as boys.
The gender gap in STEM occupations is widely attributed to the absence of female role models. According to PISA, in all countries and economies worldwide, women are underrepresented in STEM  elds. This makes it di cult to overcome the stereotypical notion that a career in mathematics or science is more masculine. Girls may also experience a lack of self-belief in their ability to perform in STEM subjects due to the dearth of successful role models they encounter. In fact, when test results of high-achieving boys and girls with similar levels of con dence were compared by PISA, the gender gap disappeared. A vicious cycle therefore ensues: a lack of positive female role models from STEM  elds leads to low self-esteem and fewer girls focusing on STEM-related study, thus perpetuating the gender gap.
“It was important to me to not only provide a female role model, but to show all students that engineering has many di erent sides.”
Science work in play at FIS
engineering has many di erent sides, not all of which are purely technical. Knowing about the di erent possibilities beforehand may inspire more students to consider STEM, who may not be excited by the typical conception of a purely technical engineering career.”
In June, FIS also hosted Dr. Erin Schuman, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. As a successful woman scientist, Dr. Schuman is passionate about sharing her experiences with the next generation: “In order to see
a path to one’s future, it is see people already on that path who are living a life that looks attractive to you. I wanted to give the talk to the girls at FIS to share with them the di erent kinds of women in science and what motivates them. I hope that the talk answered some questions for them – and gave them a sense of the fun and passion that comes with a life in science.”
Dr. Schuman believes that responsibility for promoting STEM subjects for girls lies with everyone: schools, parents, industry. For this reason, she set up the Max Planck Junior Scholars Program, an opportunity for grade 10 and 11 boys and girls to experience life inside a research laboratory through working regularly with a mentor on a scienti c project. She hopes that seeing female scientists in action will inspire and boost the self-con dence of girls.
Events such as these will help to combat stereotypes and empower FIS girls who are interested in mathematics and science to pursue a career in STEM. For more information on the Max Planck Junior Scholars Program and how to apply, visit their website: into-mpibr/registration.html
Leila Holmyard
FIS World Sta  Writer
Martha Geiger with her Engineering degree from Cambridge
Martha Geiger, Class of 2012
FIS recently held two events which provided girls with the opportunity to connect with women working in STEM  elds. In June, Martha Geiger, FIS Class of 2012, and 2016 University of Cambridge Engineering graduate, returned to school to conduct research into how international schools prepare students for STEM careers. Ms.
Geiger says that having excellent teachers in mathematics and physics opened her eyes to the possibility of
a career in STEM and explained that she wanted to give back to FIS by presenting her  ndings to current students. “It was important to me to not only provide a female role model, but to show all students (girls and boys) that
4 FIS World November 2016

   4   5   6   7   8