Building Math Confidence in Girls (and Boys)

Girls like Math. 66% of girls in 4th grade say they like science and math. And then the slide starts. Confidence drops and many girls lose the interest to pursue math and other STEM (science, technology and engineering) projects. The Google project Made with Code has been funded to the tune of 50M by the tech giant, both to remedy their own poor representation of women engineers and designers within Google and also to broaden access to STEM careers for all young people. They have faced some early backlash on promoting stereotypes (writing code to create bracelets, really?) but their mentor list looks more accessible to girls with diverse interests - medicine, law, gaming and art. Maker Faire promotes research and hands-on learning with DIY Girls and there are many other initiatives around the country (nay, world) that are taking up this challenge.

Here are some other things we can do in classrooms:

Model passion and interest in Math and STEM

Teachers are our best role models.  They inspire us to dream big and their enthusiasm for a subject or topic how we perceive that field. Flip through the year book of any 5th grade graduating class and you will find that more than half the girls say they want "to be a teacher" when they grow up. So, let's model the passion and enthusiasm for numbers and logic and problem solving.

Create math buddies

While many schools pair up older and younger children through "reading buddies", not as many make "math buddies" at the elementary level.  Elevate math to something that is

Ask more girls to create, solve and present

Shift the mindset from remedial to discovery

Yes, learning math facts are important, but let us spend more time on show what is possible with a strong math foundation (fractals anyone?) and remove the remedial tag - you are struggling with math and need help. Take the time to find how to build on every student's innate strength. It might be pattern recognition, visualization, narrative, constructing a logical