Girls are good at STEM: Opening minds and providing evidence reduce boys' stereotyping of girls' STEM ability

Child Dev. 2023 Sep 18. doi: 10.1111/cdev.14007. Online ahead of print.


Girls and women face persistent negative stereotyping within STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). This field intervention was designed to improve boys' perceptions of girls' STEM ability. Boys (N = 667; mostly White and East Asian) aged 9-15 years in Canadian STEM summer camps (2017-2019) had an intervention or control conversation with trained camp staff. The intervention was a multi-stage persuasive appeal: a values affirmation, an illustration of girls' ability in STEM, a personalized anecdote, and reflection. Control participants discussed general camp experiences. Boys who received the intervention (vs. control) had more positive perceptions of girls' STEM ability, d = 0.23, an effect stronger among younger boys. These findings highlight the importance of engaging elementary-school-aged boys to make STEM climates more inclusive.