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Girls & Science Education:
How to Engage Girls in Science


Science Reference Section
Science, Technology and Business Division
Library of Congress

Graphic: colorful drawing of 4 young girls  with "Girls & Science Education: How to Engage Girls in Science"


For Educators, Parents, and Mentors For Researchers For Young Women For More Information


This guide gathers select print and electronic resources for educators, parents, researchers, and young women on how to get girls (particularly middle and high school aged) interested in science and scientific careers/

For Educators, Parents, and Mentors


Clewell, Beatriz C., Bernice Taylor Anderson, and Margaret E. Thorpe. Breaking the barriers: helping female and minority students succeed in mathematics and science.San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass, 1992. 333 p.
   Bibliography: p. 297-318.
   QA13.C538 1992

Encouraging girls in math and science. Diane F. Halpern and others. Washington, Institute of Education Sciences of the National Center for Education Research, 2007. 47 p.
   Bibliography: p. 41-47.
    QA27.5.E53 2007 <SciRR>

Girls in science: a framework for action. Leisl Chatman and others. Arlington, VA, NSTA Press/National Science Teachers Association, c2008. 290 p.
   Bibliography: p. 273-278.
   Q181.G397 2008 <SciRR>

Goetz, Susan Gibbs. Science for girls: successful classroom strategies. Lanham, MD, Scarecrow Press, 2007.
121 p.
   Bibliography: p. 117-119.
   Q181.G466 2007

Growing smart: what’s working for girls in school: executive summary and action guide. Commissioned by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation. Researched by Sunny Hansen, Joyce Walker, and Barbara Flom. Washington, The Foundation, c1995. 45 p.
   Bibliography: p. 40-41
   LC1752.G76 1995

James, Abigail Norfleet. Teaching the female brain: how girls learn math and science. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin, c2009. 188 p.
   Bibliography: p. 173-184.
   QA11.2.J36 2009

Sadker, David Miller, Myra Sadker, and Karen Zittleman. Still failing at fairness: how gender bias cheats girls and boys in school and what we can do about it. Rev. and updated ed. New York, Scribner, 2009. 373 p.
   Bibliography: p. 321-360.
   C212.82.S265 2009

Samuels, Linda S. Girls can succeed in science!: antidotes for science phobia in boys and girls. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press, c1999. 228 p.
   Bibliography: p. 223-224.
   Q181.S19 1998

Tolley, Kimberley. The science education of American girls: a historical perspective.  New York, RoutledgeFalmer, 2003. 287 p.
   Bibliography: p. 225-274.
   Q183.3.A1T66 2003 <SciRR>



Adenika-Morrow, T. Jean. A lifeline to science careers for African-American females. Educational leadership, v. 53, May 1996: 80-83.

Alexakos, Konstantinos, and Wladina Antoine. The gender gap in science education: strategies to encourage female participation in science. Science teacher, v. 70, Mar. 2003: 30-33.

Bailey, Susan McGee.  Shortchanging girls and boys. Educational leadership, v. 53, May 1996: 75-79.

Behm, Charlotte.  Big picture science. Science teacher, v. 68, Mar. 2001: 36-39.

Buck, Gayle, and Nancy Ehlers. Four criteria for engaging girls in the middle level classroom. Middle school journal, v. 34, Sept. 2002: 48-53.

Buck, Gayle, Vicki Plano Clark, and Nicole Beeman-Cadwallader. Science role models for adolescent girls. Science scope, v. 32, Dec. 2008: 40-43.
   Electronic format
   Available through ProQuest, Education Full Text, Academic OneFile.

Clewell, Beatriz Chu, and others. What do we know?: seeking effective math and science instruction. Washington, Urban Institute, Feb. 2005. 24 p.
   Electronic format (PDF 307 KB)

Girls disengage from high school science. Education digest, v. 75, Apr. 2010: 44-45.

Heilbronner, Nancy N. Jumpstarting Jill: strategies to nurture talented girls in your science classroom. Gifted child today, v. 32, winter 2009: 46-54.
   Electronic format
   Available through ProQuest, Education Full Text, Academic OneFile.

Huebner, Tracey A. Encouraging girls to pursue math and science. Educational leadership, v. 67, Sept. 2009: 90-91.

Jolly, Eric J., Patricia B. Campbell, and Lesley Perlman. Engagement, capacity, and continuity: a trilogy for student success. Funded by the GE Foundation. Groton, MA, Campbell-Kibler; St. Paul, Science Museum of Minnesota, Sept. 2004. 24 p.
   Girls & Science vertical file <SciRR> (PDF 350 KB)

Koenig, Kathleen, and Margaret Hanson. Fueling interest in science: an after-school program model that works. Science scope, v. 32, Dec. 2008: 48-51.
   Electronic format
   Available through ProQuest, Education Full Text, Academic OneFile.

Pollina, Ann. Gender balance: lessons from girls in science and mathematics. Educational leadership, v. 53, Sept. 1995: 30-33.

Reis, Sally M., and Carol Graham. Needed: teachers to encourage girls in math, science, and technology. Gifted child today, v. 28, summer 2005: 14-21.
   Electronic format
   Available through ProQuest, Education Full Text, Academic OneFile.

Rop, Charles Breaking the gender barrier in the physical sciences. Educational leadership, v. 55, Dec. 1997/Jan. 1998: 58-60.

Vanmali, Binaben H., and Sandra K. Abell. Finding a place for girls in science. Science and children, v. 46, July 2009: 62-63.


Activities and Curriculum Resources

After-School Science Plus
   An inquiry-based after-school science program for students ages 6-14. Includes planning and activity guides for 11 hands-on science activities. Designed for educators and group leaders. Developed by Educational Equity Concepts, New York.

The Girl Solution
   A gender equality toolkit created by the Girls, Math and Science Partnership, a program of the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA. Designed for parents, educators, and mentors.

Girls at the Center: Girls and Adults Learning Science Together
   A complete guide to starting a science-related program for girls ages 6-14. Includes activities, organizational instructions, and hand-outs.  Designed for parents and group leaders. Created by the Franklin Institute with the Girl Scouts of America, Philadelphia.

Techbridge Girls Curriculum
   Twelve lessons, available separately or as a kit, which introduce students in grades 5-12 to science, technology, and engineering concepts through hands-on projects and career activities. Designed for educators. Developed by Techbridge Girls, a program of the Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland, CA.

Warren, Rebecca Lowe, and Mary H. Thompson. The scientist within you: experiments and biographies of distinguished women of science, v. 1, 2nd ed. Eugene, OR, ACI Pub., c1996. 212 p.
   Q130.W373 1995
    An instructor’s guide that includes biographies of women scientists, accompanied by an experiment and worksheet that relates to each scientist’s work. Recommended ages 10-15.

Warren, Rebecca Lowe, and Mary H. Thompson. The scientist within you: women scientists from seven continents, v. 2. Eugene, OR, ACI Pub., c1995. 212 p.
    Q130.W373 1995

Women life scientists: past, present, and future. Edited by Marsha Lakes Matyas and Ann E. Haley. Bethesda, MD, American Physiological Society, 1997. 338 p.
   In process 07-27-2010
   Individual units available as PDF files at
   An instructor’s guide that includes biographies of women scientists, accompanied by activities that relate to each scientist’s work. Supplements middle or high school life science curricula.

   A series of 6 kits, each featuring a woman scientist, which includes a video, interactive CD-Rom for students, and activity books.  Designed for educators and group leaders. Produced by the University of Nebraska State Museum and Nebraska 4-H Youth Development, Lincoln, NE.


Internet Resources

Expanding Your Horizons Network
   Encourages girls to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through conferences, hands-on workshops, and role models.  Website includes research and other resources for adults and games and activities for girls.

Girls Tech
   Provides guidance for evaluating computer resources that encourage girls’ use of the computer.

   Helps girls to excel in STEM through hands-on after-school programs, workshops, summer camps, and community events.

Great Science for Girls
   Engages girls in STEM through inquiry-based, after-school science programs. Website includes research and curriculum recommendations. Developed by the Educational Equity Center at the Academy for Educational Development through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Sally Ride Science Club
   Provides training to teachers through the Sally Ride Science Academy and curriculum resources. Offers science festivals, camps, and books for girls and their parents.

Science: It’s a Girl Thing!
   An early childhood science program designed for parents and children to do at home. Website includes 10 “activity cards” and a “personal science notebook” as PDF files.

SciGirls Activities and Lessons
   Dragonfly TV’s television series, SciGirls, encourages girls in science through hands-on activities and career guidance. Website provides downloadable activity guides in English and Spanish. Funded by the National Science Foundation.


For Researchers


Beyond bias and barriers: fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering. Washington, National Academies Press, c2007. 317 p.
   Bibliography: p. 275-299
   Q130.B49 2007 <SciRR>.

Etzkowitz, Henry, and others Athena unbound: the advancement of women in science and technology. Cambridge, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2000. 282 p.
   Bibliography: p. 257-267.
   Q130.E85 2000 <SciRR>

Fisher, Robert L. Making science fair: how can we achieve equal opportunity for men and women in science? Lanham, MD, University Press of America, c2007. 114 p.
   Bibliography: p. 99-107.
   Q130.F563 2007

The Gender and science reader. Edited by Muriel Lederman and Ingrid Bartsch. London, New York, Routledge, 2001. 505 p.
   Bibliography: p. 495-501.
   Q130.G43 2001

Hall, Linley Erin. Who’s afraid of Marie Curie?: the challenges facing women in science and technology. Emeryville, CA, Seal Press, c2007. 319 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Q147.H35 2007

Hanson, Sandra L. Swimming against the tide: African American girls and science education. Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2009. 213 p.
   Bibliography: p. 189-205.
   Q183.3.A1H367 2009

Howes, Elaine V. Connecting girls and science: constructivism, feminism, and science education reform. New York, Teachers College Press, c2002. 168 p.
   Bibliography: p. 155-162.
   Q130.H69 2002

Margolis, Jane, and Allan Fisher.Unlocking the clubhouse: women in computing. Cambridge, MIT Press, c2002. 
172 p.
   Bibliography: p. 155-164.
   QA76.25.M35 2002

Schiebinger, Londa L.The mind has no sex?: women in the origins of modern science. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1989. 355 p.
   Bibliography: p. 329-345.
   Q130.S32 1989 <SciRR>

Sheffield, Suzanne Le-May.Women and science: social impact and interaction. Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-CLIO, c2004. 409 p.
   Bibliography: p. 361-386.
   Q130.S44 2004

Teaching the majority: breaking the gender barrier in science, mathematics, and engineering. Edited by Sue Vilhauer Rosser. New York, Teachers College Press, c1995. 264 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Q181.T3538 1995

Why aren't more women in science?: top researchers debate the evidence. Edited by Stephen James Cecil and Wendy M. Williams.  Washington, American Psychological Association, c2007. 254 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Q130.W49 2007

Women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: upping the numbers. Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis.Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, Edward Elgar, c2007. 379 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Q130.W652 2007


Selected Articles

Brotman, Jennie S., and Felicia M. Moore. Girls and science: a review of four themes in the science education literature. Journal of research in science teaching, v. 45, Nov. 2008: 971-1002.

Buck, Gayle A., Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, and Susan K. Kirby. Bringing female scientists into the elementary classroom: confronting the strength of elementary students’ stereotypical images of scientists. Journal of elementary science education, v.14, fall 2002: 1-9.

Campbell, Patricia B., and others. Upping the numbers: using research-based decision making to increase diversity in the quantitative disciplines. Funded by the GE Foundation. Groton, MA, Campbell-Kibler; Newton, MA, Education Development Center, Jan. 2002. 16 p.
   Girls & Science vertical file <SciRR> (PDF 206 KB)

Clewell, Beatrice Chu, and Patricia B. Cambell. Taking stock: where we've been, where we are, where we’re going. Journal of women and minorities in science and engineering, v. 8, nos. 3 and 4, 2002: 255-284.

Crowley, Kevin, and others. Parents explain more often to boys than to girls during shared scientific thinking. Psychological science, v. 12, May 2001: 258-261.

Farland-Smith, Donna. Exploring middle school girls’ science identities: examining attitudes and perceptions of scientists when working “side-by-side” with scientists. School science and mathematics, v. 109, Nov. 2009: 415-427.

Gottfredson, Linda S. Assess and assist individuals, not sexes. Issues in education, v. 8, no. 1, 2002: 39-47.
   Electronic format
   Available through Academic Search Complete.

Hill, Catherine, Christianne Corbett, and Andresse St. Rose. Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Washington, American Association of University Women, c2010. 109 p.
   Girls & Science vertical file<SciRR>

Inzlicht, Michael, and Talia Ben-Zeev. A threatening intellectual environment: why females are susceptible to experiencing problem-solving deficits in the presence of males. Psychological science, v. 11, Sept. 2000: 365-371.

Johns, Michael, Toni Schmader, and Andy Martens. Knowing is half the battle: teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women’s math performance. Psychological science, v. 16, Mar. 2005: 175-179.

Jones, Jenny. Closing the gender gap. Civil engineering, v. 80, July 2010: 60-63.

Jovanovic, Jasna, and Sally Steinbach King. Boys and girls in the performance-based science classroom: who’s doing the performing? American educational research journal, v. 35, autumn 1998: 477-496.

Rodrick, Linda M., and Dyanne M. Tracy. Gender cultures in a science classroom: teaching that frees girls and boys to learn. Equity & excellence in education, v. 34, Sept. 2001: 29-34.

Spelke, Elizabeth S. Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: a critical review. American psychologist, v. 60, Dec. 2005: 950-958.

Tenenbaum, Harriet R., and Campbell Leaper. Parent-child conversations about science: the socialization of gender inequalities? Developmental psychology, v. 39, Jan. 2003: 34-47.

Tindall, Tiffany, and Burnette Hamil. Gender disparity in science education: the causes, consequences, and solutions. Education, v. 125, winter 2004: 282-295.

Weisgram, Erica S., and Rebecca S. Bigler.  Effects of learning about gender discrimination on adolescent girls’ attitudes toward and interest in science. Psychology of women quarterly, v. 31, Sept. 2007: 262-269.

Zeldin, A., and F. Pajares.  Against the odds: self-efficacy beliefs of women in mathematical, scientific, and technological careers. American educational research journal, v. 37, spring 2000: 215-246.


For Young Women


Hoyt, Beth, and Erica Ritter. The ultimate girls’ guide to science: from backyard experiments to winning the Nobel Prize!  Hillsboro, OR, Beyond Words Pub., 2003. 128 p.
   Bibliography: p. 119-126.
   Q147.H69 2003 <SciRR>

Karnes, Frances A., and Kristen R. Stephens. Young women of achievement: a resource for girls in science, math, and technology. Amherst, NY, Prometheus Books, 2002. 279 p.
   Bibliography: p. 236-245.
   Q130.K37 2002 <SciRR>

Pasternak, Ceel.  Cool careers for girls as environmentalists. Manassas Park, VA, Impact Publications, 2002. 128 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   GE60.P37 2002

Pasternak, Ceel, and Linda Thornburg. Cool careers for girls in air and space. Manassas Park, VA, Impact Publications, c2001.  117 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TL547.P276 2001

Pasternak, Ceel, and Linda Thornburg. Cool careers for girls in computers. Manassas Park, VA, Impact, c1999.
121 p.
   Bibliography: p. 118.
   QA76.25.P37 1999

Pasternak, Ceel, and Linda Thornburg. Cool careers for girls in engineering. Manassas Park, VA, Impact Publications, 1999. 133 p.
   Bibliography: p. 130-131.
   TA157.P325 999

For biographies of women scientists, see the Library of Congress’s reference guide, Biographies of Women Scientists for Girls and Young Women.


Internet Resources

   Encourages 11-17 year old girls to be “architects of change.”Website includes a discussion forum, biographies of young women scientists, a science video game series, games, homework help, science fair project ideas, and career advice. Provided by the Girls, Math and Science Partnership, a program of the Carnegie Science Center.

Engineer Girl
   Offers a thorough overview of different fields of engineering for middle school girls. Provided by the National Academy of Engineering.

Engineer Your Life
   Offers a thorough introduction to engineering careers for high school girls. Includes biographies of young women engineers and career advice. Provided by the WGBH Educational Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering in partnership with the Extraordinary Women Engineers Coalition.
   Offers elementary/middle-school girls games and information on science careers. Includes resources for parents for leading simple activities. Provided by the Girl Scouts of America.

I Was Wondering
   Offers games, an interactive timeline of famous women scientists, and biographies of contemporary women scientists that include comics, video, and activities. Includes resources and classroom activities for educators. Provided by the National Academy of Science.

4000 Years of Women in Science
   Offers a comprehensive list of historical and contemporary women scientists with pictures, biographical information, and an interactive quiz. Provided by the University of Alabama.


More Information

Library of Congress Guides

Biography of Women Scientists: For Girls and Young Women
Women and Minorities in Science and Technology
Science Education


Suggested Internet Search Terms

girls and science
girls science education
science gender gap
STEM education
STEM gender gap
women and science
women in STEM
women scientists
WISE (Women in Science and Engineering)


Related Journal and Magazine Titles (*Suited for lay audience.)

American educational research journal   L11.A66
Educational leadership L11.E443
Journal of elementary science education   LB1585.J68
Journal of research in science teaching   Q181.A1J6
Journal of science teacher education Q181.A1J63
Journal of women and minorities in science and engineering    Q130.J678
Middle school journal *   L11.M65
School science and mathematics Q1.S28
Science and children *   LB1585.S34
Science education   Q1.S385
Science scope Not in LC
Science teacher Q181.S38

Selected materials are available in the Girls and Science vertical file in the Science Reading Room.

Compiled by Kimberly Hedlin, July 2010

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