Letting girls speak out about science



The purpose of this study was to try to determine what influences girls to choose science. Forty girls were interviewed in Grades 2, 5, 8, 11 using a semistructured protocol. The interview focused on feelings about science, science careers, peer and parental support, and how science is taught. To determine whether their responses were based on gender, each girl was asked to respond to questions as if she were a boy. The girls were highly self-confident and positive about science. All of the girls took a strong equity position and asserted that women can and should do science. The girls liked learning science in an interactive social context rather than participating in activities that isolated them such as independent reading, writing, or note taking. Those who chose science careers were drawn to them because of strong affective experiences with a loved one and a desire to help. The interviews were analyzed through the framework of women's affective and psychological needs.