Ten Top Tips for engaging girls

Do

  • Make the lesson as collaborative and interactive as possible, engaging all students in activities and discussion.
  • Use age-relevant, gender inclusive metaphors and examples such as a bus or the school building.
  • Find everyday language, and encourage students to use it until comfortable, then define physics specific meanings deliberately.
  • Put things into context, give examples from everyday life both applications and careers.
  • Realise that many girls will be out of their comfort zone and will need to express their feelings and should be encouraged to realise they can be successful in physics without losing their femininity.

Don't

  • Plan lessons in which students only look and listen and are not allowed to touch or talk.
  • Use metaphors or examples which may exclude girls.
  • Use scientific language too early in the introduction of a concept.
  • Assume students automatically understand the 'big picture'.
  • Make comments that suggest it's unusual for girls to be interested in physics or that boys are naturally better than girls at physics.

In particular, girls are more likely to continue with physics after the age of 16 if:

  • Physics is taught in a way that engages with the interests of young people.
  • There is an expectation that anyone can do physics.
  • Classrooms are managed to ensure active participation by students.
  • The focus of learning is ideas rather than unconnected facts.
  • Students feel supported in their learning.
  • Young people understand the contribution that physics makes to society and can make to their lives.

For more on this see “A Teachers Guide for Action“