Gender Balance

Identifying Effective Interventions for Addressing Gender Balance in STEM in Early Childhood, Primary and Post-Primary Education Settings

Funded by: Department of Education and Skills

Research Team: Merrilyn Goos (PI); Veronica Ryan; John O’Donoghue; Ciara Lane; Keelin Leahy; Gráinne Walshe; Tracey O’Connell; Achmad Nizar

The aim of the Gender Balance project is to understand inequitable participation in post-primary STEM education in Ireland and to identify effective interventions for addressing critical barriers that girls experience in participating in STEM subject areas and careers. A systematic literature review will be employed to address three research questions:

  1. What critical barriers do girls experience in participating in STEM education and careers?
  2. Which of these barriers should be prioritised for further investigation in the Irish context?
  3. What interventions have proven effective in addressing the prioritised barriers?

A central claim made by the substantial literature on gender differences in STEM participation and achievement, is that there are many factors that can explain girls’ disadvantage in STEM. Moreover, these factors operate at multiple levels – individual, institutional, societal, and cultural – and they interact in complex ways. Understanding and addressing the barriers that hinder female participation and achievement thus requires “holistic and integrated responses” (UNESCO, 2017, p. 12) rather than singular “solutions”. As a consequence, the literature review will give attention to the interplay between personal, social, and institutional influences on the development of gendered academic aspirations by young children, primary and post-primary students. The research team are employing a multi-level analytical framework based on Bronfenbrenner’s (1989) Ecological Systems Theory to identify and organise known barriers and interventions to address the key aims of this project.