Developing girls’ interest in STEM subjects at Mondays@Murdoch

March 23, 2018

Dr Amanda Woods-McConney will be hosting a number of events next week about encouraging more female students to study STEM subjects.

Results published by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that measures student performance in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy, show that both female and male 15-year old students achieve similar results in science literacy.

This doesn’t, however, translate into the girls’ continued participation of these subjects in senior secondary school, nor enrolments in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degree courses at university.

On Monday 26 March, Dr Amanda Woods-McConney will present at Mondays@Murdoch on the importance of encouraging young female students to pursue studies in STEM subjects.

Dr Woods-McConney is a Senior Lecturer in Science Education at Murdoch University’s School of Education, and her research centres on deepening the understanding of students’ literacy in science.

“Through learning STEM subjects, students become STEM-literate, acquiring skills in collaboration and teamwork; creative and critical thinking; and problem-solving, which will become crucial to the future career success of our nation’s youth,” Dr Woods-McConney said.

“We want female students to feel encouraged to study subjects such as physics and chemistry, engineering, and technology just as much as male students, as the skills acquired through these studies have applications in the workforce that will be of equal value to both genders.”

Figures published by the Office of the Chief Scientist show that young women remain under-represented in the STEM fields of study, and subsequently represent a smaller ratio of employees within these industries.

This is despite the prediction that up to 75 per cent of jobs in the emerging world economies will require literacy of STEM subjects by 2030.

This lack of uptake in STEM studies by young women has raised the concern of numerous educators and experts, including former chief scientist Ian Chubb.

In this seminar, Dr Woods-McConney, will examine the possible causes for the low STEM uptake by girls, and then explore how teachers can further support them to undertake these subjects.

She will explore what young female students report they feel about STEM subjects at school, and what influences them to consider studying those courses.

In addition, Dr Woods-McConney will discuss the diverse range of career options that are available to university graduates of STEM subjects, which extend beyond becoming a research scientist.

“STEM subjects aren’t just for those who want to pursue a science career – the skills students acquire through learning these subjects can be transferred across to a career in arts, business and IT, to name a few,” Dr Woods-McConney said.

The seminar aims to be interactive, and audience participation with sharing individual experiences with engaging female students’ engagement in STEM will be encouraged.

The event will be on the Murdoch University Campus in the Hill Lecture Theatre, Building 450 and registration can be made via this link.

Dr Amanda Woods-McConney (centre) shows Murdoch students Chelsea Brown (left) and Eliza Sear-Rigg (right) some experiments that make learning STEM subjects entertaining and interesting for primary school age students.

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