At the most recent Interactivity conference, where the world’s children’s museums convene to share best practices, I was honored to be part of a panel and interactive discussion about working toward gender equity in the exhibits and experiences we offer as museums.
Attached, you’ll find my powerpoint deck and audio explanation, which illustrates a few key ideas I shared with the informal education field. It weaves together the discussions of my fellow panelists, Carol Tang (Children’s Creativity Museum) and Karen Peterson (National Girls Collaborative Project) and some of the work that’s being done nationally about informal learning strategies for keeping girls in STEM.
In the first slides, I share the work of the Exploratorium, NSF and others called EDGE (Exhibit Design for Girls’ Engagement) which shares particular techniques that foster an ideal environment for girls to learn. Notably, the hows and whys of why girls prefer open-ended environments, where they can collaborate, watch and learn, and see themselves visually as scientists are described fully in the research.
I then share my experience in working specifically in STEM with middle school girls. I owe a lot of success in my work to tapping into girls’ sense of identity and searching for a sense of who they are. With the advent of gaming and social media, we all experiment with our identity by using avatars. The team at the Girls, Math & Science Partnership successfully turned iconic characters in both Click! and Canteen to relatable, defined girls with backstories as to why they liked STEM and how it impacted their world.
Finally, I reflect on some of the most seminal work in the field of media and gender and one impetus behind the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media – that you can only be it when you see it. Images matter and having girls integrated into the visuals around STEM careers is critical to utilizing their imagination and grit to get there. I also reference the new 2019 work from Twin Cities Public Television – the SciGirls Strategies – as well as the new initiative, If/Then, both leading the work for putting girls at the center of STEM in our future.
I end by providing seven key strategies as a unique summary and call to action around the latest work in gender as it applies to learning environments. I hope you’ll love using both the powerpoint and the audio podcast together!