Under the Microscope: A decade of gender equity projects in the sciences

More than a decade has passed since the publication of the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation’s groundbreaking report How Schools Shortchange Girls (1992). This report highlighted a noticeable absence of concern for girls in the educational debate and noted systematic disparities across all school levels, in class- rooms, in testing procedures, and in curriculum design. For many, these disparities have served as one explanation for the “shrinking pipeline” in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and studies from kindergarten through high school, where girls feel disenfranchised, to universities, where fewer women pursue degrees and careers in these fields.

While some fields such as biology have made progress in bringing more women into the field, others such as computer science and physics have remained at a constant low. To encourage more girls and women to pursue STEM fields, research and demonstration projects have been implemented in a variety of settings during the past decade. These projects range from after-school programs to K–12 mentoring initiatives and lectures in higher education.

This report presents a synthesis of a large body of these projects to help STEM practitioners, researchers, and funders understand the efforts of previous years and support and develop coordinated efforts for the future. The foundation for the synthesis was 416 research and intervention projects sponsored between 1993 and 2001 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), two key foundations spearheading gender equity projects in the United States.

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