ABSTRACT. Scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) occupations are strongholds of gender segregation in the contemporary United States. While many Americans regard this segregation as natural and inevitable, closer examination reveals a great deal of variability in the gendering of STEM fields across time, space, and demographic groups. This article assesses how different theoretical accounts accord with the available evidence on the gender composition of scientific and technical fields. We find most support for accounts that allow for a dynamic interplay between individual-level traits and the broader sociocultural environments in which they develop. The existing evidence suggests, in particular, that Western cultural stereotypes about the nature of STEM work and STEM workers and about the intrinsic qualities of men and women can be powerful drivers of individual aptitudes, aspirations, and affinities. We offer an illustrative catalog of stereotypes that support women’s STEM-avoidance and men’s STEM-affinity, and we conclude with some thoughts on policy implications.
Multimedia plays an increasing role in education, especially in science instruction. Unlike the conventional teaching media, multimedia allows flexible combination of different modes of representation, such as written texts, pictures, animations, and sound. Using multimedia, teachers can use a combination of pictures and texts to explain a complex structure. Multimedia also allows a simulation of complex processes in simpler forms of animations. The research results reported here represent the first year results of a three-year research project, which aims at developing a Web-based instruction utilizing multimedia. The aim of the first year is to develop multimedia, and to analyze its impact on the improvement of students` understanding of science concepts, and on the improvement of their generic skills. This study finds that the use of multimedia in science instruction can promote students` understanding of science concepts. Relativity high gains were observed in biology lessons (junior high school) and chemistry lessons (senior high school), while a mediocre impact was observed in the thermodynamics course (pre-service teacher training) and magnetic induction course (in-service teacher trainig). The use of multimedia in instruction also promotes the participants` generic science skills.
Original article received: 5 April 2008 – Revised: 10 May 2008