Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive March 29, 2016
How outstanding women in STEM fields overcame obstacles – Lesson Plan
March is National Women’s History Month and the right time to ask: why are women still underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)? According to a recent National Science Board report, women made up just 28 percent of science and engineering workers in 2010. They also make up less than 10 percent of the engineering workforce, according to the MIT Women’s Initiative. This lesson explores the careers of 19 great female scientists, the obstacles they overcame and asks students to look at their own schools, teachers, friends and families to see whether those obstacles continue to operate in their lives.
History, Economics, Psychology, Sociology
One 50-minute class period, plus homework for extension assignments, if desired
- Handout #1: “These Are the 7 Things Keeping Women Out Of Science Careers”
- Handout #2: “20th Century Women in STEM”
- Handout #3: Recording Sheet
- Computer and Internet access
To answer the essential question, “Why are there so few women in STEM careers?” students will:
- Examine seven barriers posited for the under-representation of women in STEM fields
- Become familiar with outstanding women in these fields by reading biographies and analyzing how a particular female scientist overcame obstacles
- Apply those barriers to their own lives to see whether they are personally true
- Students will read the journal article “These Are The 7 Things Keeping Women Out Of Science Careers” (Handout #1) which cites several key factors including teasing, lack of encouragement, stereotyping, childcare, competition, marginalization and bias.
- The teacher will download and print “20th Century Women in Science” (Handout #2) and cut out the names of female scientists so that there are slips of paper in a bowl or box containing the names of 16 outstanding women in various STEM fields of the past century. Each pair of students will come up to select their subject.
- Students will access the online “Women in Science“ document to read short biographies of each of the woman they chose. They may use computers, iPads or phones, as the biographies are short and readable.
- Each pair will apply the seven barriers in the journal article to the story of their subject, and use the Recording Sheet (Handout #3) to write about them. They will also use the recording sheet to describe whether any of these obstacles persist in their communities, schools, homes or families. Students of different genders may have diverse viewpoints on these issues.
- Three living female Nobel Prize winners have websites that include their Nobel acceptance speeches and other interviews. Students may wish to read these:
Syd Golston is a former President of the National Council for the Social Studies. She is a veteran teacher and school administrator.
The Materials You Need
Tooltip of materials
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Martin Luther King Jr. Day classroom resources
Examine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with these lesson plans and videos. Continue readingcivil rightshistoryMarting Luther King Jr.MLK Jr. Day
Obama looks back on presidency in farewell address
Outgoing President Barack Obama talked about key accomplishments made during his presidency in his farewell address from Chicago on Tuesday. Continue readingBarack Obamaexecutive branchfarewell addressGovernment & CivicsSocial Studies
10 things to know about Inauguration Day
In the United States, presidential inauguration ceremonies are full of tradition. Learn about the significance and history of Inauguration Day. Continue readingGovernment & CivicsinaugurationPoliticsPresidencySocial StudiesUS Government
Hearing begins for Trump’s attorney general nominee
Tuesday saw the beginning of confirmation hearings for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general. Continue readingconfirmationGovernment & CivicsJeff SessionslawPoliticsSocial Studies
STUDENT VOICE: Trump’s cabinet is disaster for climate change fight
A Maryland high school student shares her concerns about climate policy in the upcoming Trump administration. Continue readingclimate changeDonald Trumpenvironmental issuesParis AgreementScott PruittStudent Voicesustainability