ProjectCLIMB

Changing early learning of implicit math biases

How can we best teach young children that girls as well as boys can be good at math and science? Project CLIMB tests programs that counteract early learning of implicit gender bias.

Stage

Elementary School

Key Obstacle

Developing Gender Bias

Goals

Use role-models to change STEM biases and self-belief

The Problem

Grades 2-7 are an important period for acquiring foundational math and science skills. Importantly, at this age children also begin to implicitly associate math and science with boys. Girls who learn these biases come to question their own ability. Fortunately, exposing kids to positive role models can change these biases and boost girls’ math performance, without adversely affecting boys.

 

Our APPROACH

Project CLIMB will test the impact of long-term contact with positive role models on girls’ STEM engagement. Working in partnership with Science World, we will identify several interventions that are effective in changing gender bias and susceptibility to stereotype threat among boys and girls aged 7-12. In one study, the Project CLIMB team will assess the impact of exposure and connection to successful female scientists through participation in Super Science Club. This nine-week program is run by a mix of male and female Science World staff in local schools. We will compare the Super Science Club group to children not participating in Super Science Club and to an Enhanced Role Model group with only female science facilitators and added exercises designed to foster a sense of connection to those role models.

In a second study, we will examine whether personally interacting with successful women in STEM (through Science World’s Meet-a-Scientist program) is more impactful in reducing implicit gender biases for boys and girls than merely learning about successful female scientists in simple stories or having no exposure to role models.

 

Photo Credit: Engineering Science Quest

Key Leaders

Andrew Baron PhD

Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of British ColumbiaRead Bio

The Team

The Project CLIMB team combines expertise in the science of implicit gender bias, bias reduction, and STEM outreach.

Carla Fehr PhD

Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy, Expert in Philosophy and Feminist Science Studies, University of WaterlooRead Bio

Toni Schmader PhD

ESS Director and Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology, University of British ColumbiaRead Bio

Sheryl Staub-French PhD

Goldcorp Professor for Women in Engineering; Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, University of British ColumbiaRead Bio

Mary Wells PhD

Associate Dean of Outreach in the Faculty of Engineering; Professor of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of WaterlooRead Bio

Project Partners

Project CLIMB proudly partners with the University of British Columbia, Science World, University of Waterloo, Actua, Engineering Science Quest (ESQ), Geering UP, Engineers Canada, the Engineering Change Lab, the Ontario Network for Women in Engineering (ONWiE), the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST), and the National Network of NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering.

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