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Girls Now Outnumber Boys in High School STEM, but Still Lag in College and Career

Girls at Dublin High School's engineering academy conduct an experiment about weight and density.

Thanks to long-standing efforts by teachers, administrators and nonprofits, girls now make up about half the enrollment in high-school science and math classes.

Credit: Carolyn Jones/EdSource

Although girls currently comprise about 50% of the enrollment in U.S. high school science and math classes, they still lag their male counterparts in college and the workplace in terms of participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.

California Girls in STEM Collaborative director Carol Tang says these figures indicate most girls are STEM-capable but choosing not to pursue STEM careers. Societal shifts, including more progressive mindsets about women's roles at home and at the workplace, have helped boost girls' STEM interest, but these trends have not crystallized across the board.

The University of California, Berkeley's Lizzie Hager-Barnard says discouraging factors for girls include a perception of STEM fields as tedious and not impactful when it comes to helping people, and demeaning depictions of females in video games.

Tang also notes girls are more likely to pursue STEM careers if they have a mentor.

From EdSource
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