Gender Gap Redux: Postive Pedagogy in STEM

Traditional lecture courses in STEM fields can produce an environment of negative feedback and decrease confidence in learning, allowing gender-based microaggressions and stereotypes to prosper. Such pedagogical approaches exacerbate traditional gender socialization that encourages females toward service jobs and men toward more rigorous academic paths, adding to the gender gap in STEM, especially at college and graduate levels. This project challenges the traditional lecture based teaching methods in STEM courses by introducing ways to focus on student progress and growth rather than meeting specific criteria. Traditional teaching methods discourage females from participating in STEM classrooms, depriving society of innovations that females have to offer. Social change can start inside the classroom with new teaching methods. Innovative educators in STEM suggest some methods include: having class discussions driven by student questions that encourage processing rather than lectures, using group activities and professor feedback for additional perspectives on problems, skill based exams rather than testing students solely on content, flexibility in grading, and reimagining what defines success or productivity in a class. In her Ted Talk, Dr. Reshma Saujani argues that using these methods can encourage students to risk being wrong, thus breaking barriers to the idea of perfectionism and increasing female representation in STEM, reinforcing that skill comes with practice rather than innate ability. As a woman in STEM, it is my hope to build a more supportive classroom community to build confidence and acceptance of females in STEM so we can begin to bridge the gap in the science world.