The What Works Clearinghouse’s (WWC) Encouraging Girls in Math and Science IES Practice Guide provides educators with clear and practical evidence-based recommendations to inspire girls in science and math. This post provides a brief overview of the five strategies outlined in the guide and highlights supporting resources from REL West and the Doing What Works library.

Five Recommendations for Teachers and Other School Staff

WWC Practice Guides present evidence-based recommendations that teachers can implement without systemic change. Each recommendation is supported by various levels of research. The Encouraging Girls in Math and Science Practice Guide presents the following five strategies:

  1. Help students understand academic abilities are expandable and improvable.
  2. Give students prescriptive, informational feedback on their course performance.
  3. Introduce students to women who have made strides in the field to counter negative gender stereotypes.
  4. Create and sustain a classroom environment that sparks curiosity and long-time interest in math and science.
  5. Provide spatial skills training to increase test performance.

“These recommendations together form a coherent statement: To encourage girls in math and science, we need to begin first with their beliefs about their abilities in these areas, second with sparking and maintaining greater interest in these topics, and finally with building associated skills.” (Encouraging Girls in Math and Science, page 8)

A checklist of recommendations, suggestions for implementing them, and solutions to potential roadblocks are included in the guide. Download your copy to find out more.

Introducing Learners to Female Role Models

Parents and caregivers can take an active role in encouraging children’s interest in math and science. The WWC recommends introducing students to female role models as a way to counter negative gender stereotypes. Researchers at REL West created an activity sheet to assist educators with this goal.

The activity involves reading brief biographies of three female role models and discussing why they are inspirational. The biographies are of three women who made significant contributions to the field of technology — mathematician and writer Ada Lovelace, mathematician and computer scientist Grace Hopper, and mathematician Gladys West.

Teachers can give this activity to families and caregivers to do at home with their children.

Download the activity sheet to learn more.

A Library of Additional Resources

The Doing What Works website offers a variety of resources to help educators promote math and science for girls, including infographics, planning templates, and videos. The video below, for example, provides an overview of how to teach students that their abilities are not fixed, but expandable.

Visit the Doing What Works resource library to access more resources.