Engaging Girls in STEM

The following publications summarize research focused on what works to engage and support girls in STEM. These publications present new research or distill existing research and provide it in user-friendly formats to inform programming, reference in presentations, and cite when writing proposals or seeking other types of program support.

girls in stem

The SciGirls Seven

The SciGirls PBS television series, website, and outreach initiatives emphasize current research on strategies proven to increase girls’ engagement in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become SciGirls’ foundation. The SciGirls Seven summarizes seven research-based strategies for engaging girls in STEM, including tips for putting these strategies to practice and references for additional information.

Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing

This research report, published by AAUW, asks why there are still so few women in the critical fields of engineering and computing – and explains what we can do to make these fields open to and desirable for all employees. A PowerPoint presentation and fact sheet are also available.

Girls in IT: The Facts

This report, sponsored by theNational Center for Women & Information Technology’s K-12 Alliance, summarizes the existing literature on girls’ participation in computing, including key barriers to girls’ participation and promising practices for addressing these barriers.

Effective STEM Programs for Adolescent Girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned

This article, published in Afterschool Matters, describes three successful programs to engage adolescent girls in STEM: Techbridge, Girls Go Techbridge, and Access for Young Women. Effective strategies implemented by the programs include developing collaborations, creating an engaging and relevant curriculum, and inspiring career exploration.

Cascading Influences: Long-Term Impacts of Informal STEM Experiences for Girls

This report, by Dale McCreedy and Lynn D. Dierking, summarizes National Science Foundation-funded research that investigated whether girls-only, informal STEM experiences have long-term influences on young women’s lives. The authors present key findings of the study, barriers to success that were identified, and recommendations for informal STEM educators.

Girls, Equity and STEM in Informal Learning Settings: A Review of the Literature

This report, published by Girls RISEnet, summarizes current literature related to engaging girls in STEM in informal learning environments, including museums and science centers. Implications for practice and research are also discussed.

Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

This research report, published by AAUW, provides in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers that continue to block women’s participation and progress in STEM. The report also includes up to date statistics on girls’ and women’s achievement and participation in these areas and offers ideas for practitioners working to engage girls in STEM.

Evaluating Promising Practices in Informal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Girls 

This research report, published by the Girl Scouts of the USA, identifies promising practices in informal STEM education for girls based on a review of relevant literature and a survey of current STEM programs for girls. The report also includes real world examples of these practices, provided by the girl-serving STEM programs included in the study.

Encouraging Girls in Math and Science

This IES (Institute of Education Sciences) Practice Guide, published by the U.S. Department of Education, presents evidence-based advice to practitioners working to encourage girls in mathematics and science. The Guide provides five recommendations for encouraging girls in mathematics and science, including the level of evidence to support each recommendation and guidance for carrying out each recommendation.

Program Models and Resources

Following criteria are being used to identify high-quality program models and resources. Practitioners are encouraged to use the criteria when reviewing and identifying potential program models and resources to use in their own programs.

1. Accessible
a. Program/resource should be able to be implemented in other geographic areas, communities, and situations.
b. Program/resource should not be dependent on access to a specific local resource such as a science museum, university, corporate headquarters, or geographic feature unless such resources can be widely found in other areas.
c. Program/resource should be provided/shared free or at very low cost. Ideally program information should be available online.
d. Program/resource should be appropriate to scale or replicate to serve increasing numbers of girls. Required tools should not limit scalability.
2. Research Based
Program/resource should include research and evaluation of the effectiveness, or alternately, be based upon established promising practices in informal STEM education for girls.
3. Evidence of Success
Program/resource should have documented success/outcomes evidenced by participant, parent and/or staff evaluations and/or program evaluation data.
4. Girl Centered
Though programs/resources designed for boys and girls are not automatically excluded, programs/resources should have a clear focus on serving/attracting girls and/or use methodology based upon promising practices for educating girls in STEM disciplines.


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