This paper suggests that girls’ negative response to STEM is based on the beliefs and attitudes about femininity that they have internalized.
By the time they hit middle school, girls seem to believe that there is a disconnect between femininity and skill in math. Girls feel that they must either opt out of femininity or opt out of STEM. In essence, you can’t be both feminine and good at math – the two are mutually incompatible.
This paper proposes that rather than exclusively focusing on removing external barriers that keep girls from entering into STEM (i.e. increasing female role models in STEM or making pedagogy less ‘masculine’), we also need to focus on gaining a better understanding of girls’ internalization of feminine norms and how this affects female participation in STEM.
This article also echoes our beliefs, in suggesting that we need to pay more attention to how girls, as active agents, can choose to defy and change the MATH ≠ FEMINITY equation.