This week we celebrated National Science Week with an array of activities on offer for our primary and secondary students to engage in during lunch times. National Science Week is in an annual celebration of all things science and technology, taking place Australia wide each August. Across the country there are more than 100 events being offered in schools, universities, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres.
This year’s theme, Glass: more than meets the eye was the focus of the activities delivered by our dedicated and talented staff with students from prep through to senior secondary. I’m sure the girls enjoyed their hands on experiences learning about snap circuits, kaleidoscopes, microscopes and magnifying glasses, periscopes and creating suncatchers.
As we recognise National Science Week, I thought it timely to reference information I have read recently in a Sydney Morning Herald article around girls’ participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and the benefits of an all-girls school education. Loren Bridge is the Executive Officer of the Alliance of All Girls’ Schools Australasia and writes,
'Evidence shows that girls at single-sex schools are 85 per cent more likely to take advanced mathematics than girls in co-ed schools. They are also 79 per cent more likely to study chemistry, 68 per cent more likely to take intermediate mathematics, and 47 per cent more likely to study Physics.’
Across the board, girls’ schools deliver higher participation in STEM subjects and this is supported by higher levels of engagement, enjoyment and aspiration. Foundational aspects that foster an interest in STEM subjects begin prior to prep age. Recent research states that gender biases that are established in the early years and reinforced in primary and secondary years are simply non existent in all-girls schools. Without these gender biases, girls feel less self-conscious about taking the lead (or indeed tackling the “so-called” tough subjects) and they experience a greater sense of belonging in any role or subject they take on - whether it is in the science lab or on the sports field.
Girls’ schools push against societal constructs, helping girls to explore all their abilities and talents, free from gender influences.
In a girls-only environment, students are equipped with the motivation, self-belief and resilience to feel confident about their abilities - and not just in mathematics and science, but also in leadership roles, physical education and sports. As a result, they are more assertive, more willing to take risks, and to ask critical questions that develop their own understanding. Loren concludes her article with the statement, “if we want higher participation rates in STEM for girls, we need more girls’ schools.”
We are proud to provide the best educational opportunities for our girls mentioned above, and with the additional opportunities provided by Mrs Christie Dey, Director of Middle Years and STEAM Mentoring program, I can confidently say that our students are truly supported and encouraged to enjoy and value the process of learning and to strive for excellence in all they do (not that I am at all biased as a science and senior biology teacher).