How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science

This article written by Claire Cain Miller on the unconscious biases of elementary level teachers tackles a question almost everyone thinks of and no one asks – why are there no girls in the sciences? The author, Erik Lesser, explains that it because early education affects later development. Since there is already a bias against women in stem fields, the unconscious discouragement most young girls get in elementary school can affect their future career paths. For this reason, change should be made at elementary school level. The author also looks at the shockingly low statistics of girls in math and sciences courses in high schools and colleges, and attempts to explain how teachers tend to overestimate boys in those situations and underestimate girls.

Read an excerpt of the article written by CLAIRE CAIN MILLER:

We know that women are underrepresented in math and science jobs. What we don’t know is why it happens. There are various theories, and many of them focus on childhood. Parents and toy-makers discourage girls from studying math and science. So do their teachers. Girls lack role models in those fields, and grow up believing they wouldn’t do well in them. All these factors surely play some role. A new study points to the influence of teachers’ unconscious biases, but it also highlights how powerful a little encouragement can be. Early educational experiences have a quantifiable effect on the math  and science courses the students choose later, and eventually the jobs they get and the wages they earn. The effect is larger for children from families in which the father is more educated than the mother and for girls from lower-income families, according to the study, published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The pipeline for women to enter math and science occupations narrows at many points between kindergarten and a career choice, but elementary school seems to be a critical juncture. Reversing bias among teachers could increase the number of women who enter fields like computer science and engineering, which are some of the fastest growing and highest paying. “It goes a long way to showing it’s not the students or the home, but the classroom teacher’s behavior that explains part of the differences over time between boys and girls,” said Victor Lavy, an economist at University of Warwick in England and a co-author of the paper. Previous studies have found that college professors and employers discriminate against female scientists. But it is not surprising that it begins even earlier. In computer science in the United States, for instance, just 18.5 percent of the high school students who take the Advanced Placement exam are girls. In college, women earn only 12 percent of computer science degrees. That is one reason that tech companies say they have hired so few women. more

Investing in Our Future at Community Colleges

In the article, David Brooks mentions the human capital component in President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free: return on investment. A national policy to offer free community college tuition is a crucial investment in and commitment to our social contract. America prospers because we invest in people, ideas, infrastructure, research, design, education and health care because of the confirmed two-year participation in a national service corps. David Brooks recommends on focussing on a student’s living expenses, mentoring relationships and the “remedial education mess” rather than tuition, which is likely to benefit those for whom community college is already affordable, are on target.

Read an excerpt of the article written by David Brooks:

There is a human capital component to President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free: return on investment. The $60 billion that would be spent over a decade is an investment in our civic future. Our return for that financial commitment should be service to the country, which could include work as a teacher, nurse, engineer, firefighter or police officer. A national policy to offer free community college tuition is a crucial investment in and commitment to our social contract. But let’s be clear about the cost. The tuition isn’t “free”; our citizens cover the cost of “free.” I propose a simple plan: When students agree to accept the tuition (and complete their education), that contract confirms their two-year participation in a national service corps. America prospers because we invest in people, ideas, infrastructure, research, design, education and health care. This is the fabric of the social contract that each generation knows: Invest early, often and with compassion, and watch your returns build the future. MICHAEL G. SIEVERS Portland, Ore., Jan. 21, 2015 To the Editor: “The important task is to help students graduate,” David Brooks says, noting that community college dropout rates now hover somewhere between 66 and 80 percent. Setting graduation as the ultimate goal, however, may be a mistake when technology is changing education and work. Diplomas based on college-mandated credits are becoming anachronistic as online courses become better and more pervasive. more

Publisher moves into web courses

The article by Alexandra Alter shows the attempts of a publishing company, Simon and Schuster to try and gain ground in the field of online videos and courses. The company acknowledges the significant fall in sales of books. It offers paid services with personal video sessions as well as live question and answer, hoping to attain supremacy in the market. 

Read an excerpt of the article written by  Alexandra Alter:

Simon & Schuster is making a push into paid online video, with a new website offering online courses from popular health, finance and self-help authors. The cost of the first batch of online courses ranges from $25 to $85 and includes workbooks and access to live question-and-answer sessions with three authors: Dr. David B. Agus, the best-selling author of ‘‘The End of Illness’’; Zhena Muzyka, who wrote the self-help book ‘‘Life by the Cup’’; and Tosha Silver, the author of the spiritual advice book ‘‘Outrageous Openness.’’ The courses will be available on the authors’ individual websites and on the company’s new site, SimonSays. ‘‘Today’s consumers have made it plain that they want and expect more from authors than just books,’’ Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement. ‘‘This initiative is also another way for us to expand what Simon & Schuster can provide to our authors, building audiences for their books and creating new revenue streams.’’ With the online courses, Simon & Schuster aims to tackle two problems facing authors and publishers: finding new business opportunities in a sluggish book market and grabbing the attention of readers who are increasingly distracted by social media and free online content. And book sales have flagged. ...Read more