Europe’s future economy and social coherence is depending on young generations with interests, skills and capacity far beyond what is offered in the traditional educational system.
Europe needs young people deeply engaged in science, research and innovation – and based on positive and engaging experiences of what science, research and innovation is at a very early age and in early schooling.
Young people are increasingly disengaged from science learning in schools and this is causing great concern in the European Commission and other global players.
We call this the Commission’s SCIENCE LEARNING INNOVATION AGENDA, described and documented across numerous Commission documents, research papers and guidelines.
The core message is that science learning in schools needs dramatic change and fundamental re-thinking to appeal to the young generations.
We thus conclude that science aspirations sit in an uneasy tension with femininity and must be continually carefully negotiated and defended against challenges from wider popular discourses which align science with masculinity. The root of continued gender inequalities in girls’/women’s participation in, and experiences of, science is, therefore, complex, multiple, and highly resistant to change—and is especially problematic for girls who are not middle class and who do not occupy “clever” learner identities.
“Balancing Acts”: Elementary School Girls’ Negotiations of Femininity, Achievement, and Science, 2012 (Archer et al)
Recent research also evidence that girls are becoming especially disengaged from science education in school, and that this has serious consequences for their lifetime interests and for their career choices.
Synthesizing leading research, it is clear that most girls do not feel comfortable with science education and the values and personal identities linked to science and science jobs. The problem is not a lack of intellectual capacity; the problem is at identity level.
Recent UK research concludes that very little has changed for girls and science along the last 30 years, despite good intentions and a large number of experimentations.
ScienceGirls responds to this state of the art through creating new directions for girls and science through the full co-driving and co-creation of the teenage girls themselves.
The teenage years are precisely the most important time in life for creating identity and personality, including in particular gender identity, and this is why resistance to science among most school girls might in fact last a lifetime: when resistance towards certain school interests is directly linked to the creation of one’s identity and personality, the resistance is very difficult to overcome later in life.
Therefore any successful innovation in early science learning must link directly to the basic formation of identity.
This is why ScienceGirls addresses teenage girls from 13 to 15 years old and their relations to science learning.