T410  Gender Issues in Science Education 

Winter 1999   University of Missouri-Columbia


Kathy Phillips, M.S., M.Ed.

Becky Litherland, Ph.D.

Class Time: 6:30-9:00 pm, Wednesdays,  Jan 27 to Apr 21.

This course will focus on research involving gender issues in science education and strategies to promote effective instruction for all students in your classrooms.  You will use the course materials, your video tapes of your teaching, and other curricular materials from your classroom to reflect on your teaching. At the conclusion of the course, you will develop a professional action plan relating to a topic covered in the course to be implemented in your classroom during the following semester.

Your grade will be determined by the following components:

  1.   Attendance and participation in class discussions (110 pts)
  2.   Completion of assessments (see below) (880 pts)

Required Texts 

  1. American Institutes for Research.  (1998).  Gender gaps:  Where schools still fail our children.  Washington, DC:  American Association for University Women Educational Foundation.
  2. Chapman, A.  (1997).  A great balancing act:  Equitable education for girls and boys.  Washington, DC:  National Association of Independent Schools.
  3. Sadker, M., & Sadker, D.  (1994).  Failing at fairness:  How America’s schools cheat girls.  New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Assessment Descriptions

  1. Reflective Journals:  Each week you will analyze, synthesize, and reflect on the readings, the class discussion, and your own teaching in a one-page, single-spaced reflection paper.  Your ideas must be supported by data from the sources listed above. (180 pts)
  2. Biography Review:  You will choose a biography of a woman scientist/engineer/inventor at the reading level of the students that you teach and write a one-page review of the book.  Criteria for the review will be developed in class. (100 pts)
  3. Video Coding Report:  You will view the videos of your teaching recorded prior to the class and code them for gender differences in interactions.  Your report should include your original coding data and a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data. (100 pts)
  4. Strategies Brochure:  You will produce a brochure for other teachers outlining gender equity issues and providing strategies to help ensure equitable classrooms.  You may work in pairs or individually on this brochure. (100 pts)
  5. Research Review:  You will choose a topic of interest in the area of gender and science education and will find five journal articles on the topic.  You will write a short paper (5 pages or less) addressing why you chose this topic, summarizing the research and discussing how knowledge of this topic will enhance your teaching.  At least three of the articles must come from research journals, e.g., Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, School Science and Mathematics. The final two sources may be from practitioner journals (e.g., Science and Children, The Science Teacher) or from on-line sources. (200 pts) 
  6. Action Plan:  You will produce a professional action plan focusing on one area of your teaching relating to gender equity.  The plan will be implemented in the semester following the course. (200 pts).

This syllabus is subject to change by the instructor based on the instructional needs of the students.

Statement for Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university.  All members of the academic community must be confident that each person’s work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed, and presented.  Any effort to gain advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful.  The academic community regards academic dishonesty as an extremely serious matter, with serious consequences that range from probation to expulsion.  When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, consult the course instructor.

Statement for ADA

If you have a disability and need accommodations, (for example, extended testing time, note taking, large print materials), please inform your instructor privately as soon as possible.  In most circumstances, students with disabilities seeking academic accommodations should also register with the Access Office, A048 Brady Commons, 882-4696.  As necessary, the Access Office will review documentation about your disability and about the need for accommodations you are requesting.  The Access Office will then assist in planning for any necessary accommodation.

Course Schedule

1/27Course Requirements  
Pre-course Data Collection  
Introduction to Equity
Intro to Biography Review Project
Intro to Research Project
Classroom Interactions:Research
Sadkers, Preface-p.65
Chapman, p. 75-78
AAUW, p. vii-26
Journal #1
2/10Classroom Interactions: Coding
Curriculum Inequities/Resources
Curriculum Readings
Sadkers, p. 65-76
Chapman, p. 47-74 
AAUW, p. 43-53  
Biography Topic  
Journal #2: General
2/17Biography Reports
Discussion of Coding Experiences
Sadkers, Ch 4, 5
AAUW, Ch 6
Biography Review
Journal #3
2/24Equity CD-ROM
Guest: Dr. Marty Henry
Video Coding Report
Journal #4
3/3Classroom Strategies  
Intro to Action Plans
Sadkers, Ch 9 
Chapman, p. 79-82, 107-112 Strategies Readings  
Journal #5
3/10Language IssuesChapman, p. 16-19, 87-88 Language Readings  
Strategies Brochure  
Journal #6
3/17TechnologyChapman, p. 121-124  
AAUW, p. 53-55  
Technology Readings  
Journal #7
3/31Biological DifferencesBiological Readings  
Journal #8  
Action Plan—First Draft
4/7Boys’ Education 
Testing and Assessment 
Sadkers, Ch 6, 8  
AAUW, Ch 2  
Boys’ Ed/Testing Readings Journal #9  
Research Review
4/14Where Do We Go From Here?Sadkers, Ch 10  
AAUW, Ch 7  
Action Plan—Final Draft
4/21Final Exam  
Course Evaluation  
Post-Course Data Collection

Supplemental Texts and Readings


  • Barinaga, M.  (11 March 1994).  Surprises across the cultural divide.  Science, 263, 1468-1469, 1472.
  • Collaboration for Equity.  (1996).  How far we’ve come:  Progress and predicaments in achieving equity of access, treatment and outcomes.  Indianapolis, IN:  Girls Incorporated. 
  • Deak, J. (1998).  How girls thrive:  An essential guide for educators (and parents).  Washington, DC:  National Association of Independent Schools.
  • Rosser, S. V. (1997). Re-engineering female friendly science.  New York:  Teachers College Press.
  • Tobias, S.  (1990).  They’re not dumb, they’re different:  Stalking the second tier.  Tucson, AZ:  Research Corporation.
  • Tobias, S.  (1996).  The ‘problem’ of women in science:  Why is it so difficult to convince people there is one?  In A hand up:  Women mentoring women in science (2nd ed.).   Washington, DC:  Association for Women in Science.
  • Classroom Interactions Baker, D. R.  (1986).  Sex differences in classroom interactions in secondary science.  Journal of Classroom Interaction, 22(2), 6-12.
  • Feldhusen, J. F., & Willard-Holt, C.  (1993).  Gender differences in classroom interactions and career aspirations of gifted students.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18, 355-362. 
  • Hacker, R. G.  (1991).  Gender differences in science-lesson behaviours.  International Journal of Science Education, 13(4), 439-445.
  • Jones, M. G., & Wheatley, J.  (1990).  Gender differences in teacher-student interactions in science classrooms.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27(9), 861-874.
  • Leinhardt, G., Seewald, A. M., & Engel, M.  (1979).  Learning what’s taught:  Sex differences in instruction.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 71(4), 432-439.


  • Daisey, P.  (1997).  Promoting equity in secondary science and mathematics classrooms with biography projects.  School Science and Mathematics, 97(8), 413-418.
  • Marshall, J. A., & Dorward, J. T.  (1997).  The effect of introducing biographical material on women scientists into the introductory physics curriculum.  Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 3, 279-294.
  • Hulme, M. A.  (1994).  Science stuff for girls and boys:  A selected bibliography for grades K-6.  New Brunswick, NJ:  Equity Assistance Center.
  • Showell, E. H., & Amram, F. M. B.  (1995).  From Indian corn to outer space:  Women invent in America.  Peterborough, NH:  Cobblestone Publishing, Inc.


  • American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.  (1998).  Separated by sex:  A critical look at single-sex education for girls.  Washington, DC:  Author.
  • Bianchini, J. A.  (1997).  Where knowledge construction, equity, and context intersect:  Student learning of science in small groups.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34 (10), 1039-1065.
  • Burkham, D. T., Lee, V. E., & Smerdon, B. A.  (1997).  Gender and science learning early in high school:  Subject matter and laboratory experiences.  American Educational Research Journal, 34(2), 297-331. 
  • Furger, R.  (1998).  Does Jane compute?:  Preserving our daughters’ place in the cyber revolution.  New York:  Warner Books. 
  • Huffman, D.  (1997).  Effect of explicit problem solving instruction on high school students’ problem-solving performance and conceptual understanding of physics.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34(6), 551-570.
  • Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.  (1994).  Calculus-based physics exploratory study:  Summary report.  Author.
  • Martinez, M. E.  (1989).  Gender differences in science interest (Report No. ETS-RR-89-27).  Princeton, NJ:  Educational Testing Service.  (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 395 970)
  • Meece, J. L., & Jones, M. G.  (1996).  Gender differences in motivation and strategy use in science:  Are girls rote learners?  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33(4), 393-406.
  • Pollina, A.  (1995).  Gender balance:  Lessons from girls in science and mathematics.  Educational Leadership, 53(1), 30-33.
  • Varanka-Martin, M.  (1996, November).  Creating gender-sensitive environments:  A teacher’s role.  Paper presented at the Colorado Science Convention, Denver, CO.

Biological Differences

  • Angier, N.  (1994, June 21).  Feminists and Darwin:  Scientists try closing the gap.  The New York Times.
  • Kenschaft, P. C.  (n.d.). Fifty-five cultural reasons why too few women win at mathematics.  Winning women into mathematics.
  • Schreiber, L. A.  (1993, April).  The search for his and her brains.  Glamour, 234-237, 274-276.
  • Zuk, M.  (1993).  Feminism and the study of animal behavior.  BioScience, 43(11), 774-778.


  • Guzzetti, B. J., & Williams, W. O.  (1996).  Changing the pattern of gendered discussion:  Lessons from science classrooms.  Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 40 (1), 38-47.
  • Guzzetti, B. J., & Williams, W. O.  (1996).  Gender, text, and discussion:  Examining intellectual safety in the science classroom.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33 (1), 5-20.
  • Keller, E. F.  (1985).  Reflections on gender and science.  New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press.
  • Martin, E.  (1991).  The egg and the sperm:  How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles.  Signs:  Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 16 (3), 485-501.
  • Sheldon, A.  (1990).  “Kings are royaler than queens”:  Language and socialization.  Young Children, 45(2), 4-9.

Boys’ Education

  • Askew, S., & Ross, C.  (1988).  Boys don’t cry:  Boys and sexism in education.  Bristol, PA:  Open University Press.
  • Ryan, J.  (1998, March 22).  Boys to men.  San Francisco Chronicle [On-line].  Available: www.sfgate.com.

Testing and Assessment

  • Latham, A. S.  (1997/1998).  Gender differences on assessments.  Educational Leadership, 88-89.
  • FairTest.  (1996).  Test-makers to revise National Merit exam to address gender bias.  FairTest Examiner [On-line]. Available:  www.fairtest.org.

Advance Preparation: Videotaping of your class

You are to have three (3) video tapes made of yourself as soon as possible if you have not already done so.  Here are the guidelines on videotaping:

  1. Each taping session should be a minimum of 30 minutes.
  2. One taping session should include the beginning of a class, one taping session should include the middle of a class, and one taping session should include the end of a class.
  3. Space your taping sessions at least one week apart; don’t make all three tapes on the same day.
  4. Tape yourself teaching different classes of students and teaching different subjects (eg. Biology, Advanced Biology), if applicable.
  5. Place the camera so that you are the primary subject, not your students.  Make sure that you can hear your voice clearly on the tape.  You may want to use a remote microphone for this purpose.
  6. It may be helpful to have a person operating the camera so that it can stay focused on you as you move around the room, especially if space is limited in your classroom.
  7. Tell your students that you are making a video of yourself to help improve your teaching and that no one else will be looking at the tape besides you.  It is probably not a good idea to tell them that you will be focusing on gender issues as you review the tape.

I would prefer that you space the sessions out by at least a week.

Assignment for Journal #8-Analyzing Computer of Video Games

Choose ONE of the following actvities and describe your results in your journal.  Don’t forget to include your own reaction/reflection.

  1. Choose a video or computer game and analyze it for equity and “goodness” according to the criteria given by the Through the Glass Wall project.  See the following web site for criteria.  (You don’t have to analyze it for math quality.) http://www.terc.edu/mathequity/gw/html/MEGSpaper.html#megs
  2. Visit a computer store or video arcade and observe the ages of the people present (pre-teen, teen, 20-30, 30-50, over 50), the sex, and what they are doing (working, customer, playing games (or purchasing), watching others play (or purchase)).  You may want to conduct brief interviews with some of the people there if you feel comfortable doing so.
  3. Observe an elective class in your school district that relates to technology, e.g., auto mechanics, electronics tech, CAD, computer programming, word processing.  Interview the teacher about gender related issues in the class.
  4. Interview a counselor in your school district about the criteria used to counsel students into technology related classes, e.g., grades, career plans (student perceived, counselor perceived), parent request, other??
  5. Go through an on-line or CD-ROM clipart program (one that includes 100s or 1000s of pictures) and analyze the pictures with technology (computers, tools, etc.).  What roles are females shown in?  What roles are males shown in?
  6. Another data-gathering activity of your choice related to technology.

Action Plan Guidelines, Winter 1999

First Draft Due March 31, 1999
Final Action Plan Due April 14, 1999

Objective: This section should be a short, measurable objective describing your proposed plan.  Examples:  To develop and implement an informational session for middle school girls and their parents on gender equity issues in science;  To incorporate biographies of women scientists into three of my curricular units; To improve my feedback to student responses to both female and male students.

Rationale:   This section should contain background information indicating why you chose your objective.  You should include information that relates to your classroom (e.g., my units currently contain information only on male scientists; in my videotapes for the course I discovered that I only provide specific feedback 7% of the time).  You should also provide information on the research in this area from your texts and readings from this course (e.g., research indicates that providing female role models in science improves students’ attitudes towards women in science).

Procedures for Achieving Objective (including Timeline):  This section should be the bulk of your Action Plan.  You should indicate specific steps you will take to achieve your objective and the dates by which these steps will be completed.  For example, 

1. Do library/internet research on women scientists for inclusion into the soil/water unit (July 1, 1999).
2. Do library/internet research on women scientists for inclusion into the rock cycle unit (July 15, 1999). 
3. Write lesson plans incorporating women scientists into the soil/water unit (August 1, 1999).
8. Teach lessons in rock cycle unit to 3 sections of geology classes (November 5, 1999).
9. Reflect on lessons/units that incorporated women scientists and write summary of reflections (November 19, 1999).

Documentation that Action Plan has been Completed:   This section should describe all relevant documentation that you will submit upon completion of your Action Plan.  Everyone should include a summary statement of your reflections on implementation.  Other items to include might be lesson plans, handouts, evaluation forms, examples of student work, coding sheets, etc.