Published Online: May 22, 2012
Published in Print: May 23, 2012, as Girls and STEM

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Girls and STEM

"My Fair Physicist?: Feminine Math and Science Role Models Demotivate Young Girls"

The push to promote more "feminine" role models for the science, technology, engineering, and math fields may backfire with middle school girls, says a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

University of Michigan psychology researchers conducted a series of experiments in which 6th and 7th grade girls read articles about three successful female university students. In some cases, the hypothetical students were overtly "girly," wearing pink clothes and makeup, for instance; in others, they wore dark clothes and glasses.

The researchers found girls who read about the overtly female role models reported lower interest and perceived ability and future expectations in math, and were less interested in taking math classes later on than girls who read about the other role models.

Vol. 31, Issue 32, Page 5

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