Gender, race, ethnicity, and science education in the middle grades



This article examines gender differences in science achievements and attitudes during the middle grade, when our nation's scientific pipeline begins to emerge. It uses data from a large, nationally representative sample of eighth-grade students (NELS-88). The findings show that in these grades female students do not lag behind their male classmates in science achievements tests, grades, and course enrollments. Actually, some female students have higher probabilities of enrolling in high-ability classes than males. However, female students have less positive attitudes toward science, participate in fewer relevant extracurricular activities, and aspire less often to science careers than males. Students' science attitudes and career interests vary according to students' gender as well as their racial or ethnic background. These findings emphasize the need to further examine the interrelationships between gender and race or ethnicity in our efforts to understand the processes leading to women's limited participation in science-related careers.