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.


Elementary School

Key Obstacle

Developing Gender Bias


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.


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

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.

Kate Block PhD

Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam
Read Bio

Carla Fehr PhD

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

Antonya Gonzalez PhD

Associate Professor, Western Washington
A headshot of Cameron Hall

Cameron Hall BA

Graduate Student, University of British
A headshot of Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee

Graduate Student, University of British

Anthea Pun PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of British
Read Bio
Headshot of Toni Schmader

Toni Schmader PhD

ESS Director and Full Professor of Psychology, University of British ColumbiaRead Bio

Jennifer Steele PhD

Professor of Psychology, York UniversityRead Bio
A headshot of Sheryl Staub-French

Sheryl Staub-French PhD

Professor of Civil Engineering, and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Faculty of Applied Science, University of British ColumbiaRead Bio

Mary Wells PhD

Dean of 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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