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How a gender gap in belonging contributes to the gender gap in physics participation Documents

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How a gender gap in belonging contributes to the gender gap in physics participation 

written by Jane Stout, Tiffany A. Ito, Noah D. Finkelstein, and Steven J. Pollock

A great deal of research indicates that feeling a secure sense of belonging in academic settings is critical to students' achievement. In the current work, we present data collected over multiple semesters of a calculus-based introductory physics class indicating that women feel a lower sense of belonging than men in physics. This finding is important because our data also indicate that having a strong sense of belonging in physics positively predicts the degree to which all students see the value of physics in their daily life (an outcome that predicts motivation and persistence in achievement settings) as well as performance on exams in the course. We identify one potential antecedent of women's relatively lower sense of belonging in physics, namely, negative cultural stereotypes about women's inferior ability in physics compared to men. We then discuss pedagogical strategies that might be employed to enhance women's sense of belonging in physics.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified July 1, 2013