Girls, STEM, and Children's Books: A Review of the Literature Concerning Girls' Interest, Motivation and Ability in STEM, Complemented by a Mixed Methods Content Analysis of Award Winning Informational Children's Books
Anderson, Cynthia Gail
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This thesis includes an expansive literature review investigating why there is still a lack of women in STEM, concluding that social systems are key factors and also looks at how motivation, interest, and engagement might be increased. It then studies how the images in children's books may impact girls' gender beliefs about their future role in society, in particular, in STEM. Science-oriented (informational) children's books are studied. The analysis found moderate to severe gender bias in both the frequencies of male to female images and in the stereotyping of roles. Findings were in line with current and past research that has focused instead on fictional award-winning books. However, informational books are focused on "real life" and therefore expose children to future roles and careers. Analysis used picture book/early learning theories and was a pictorially-focused mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) content analysis of Sibert and Orbis Pictus award-winning informational children's books, and used the textual information only as a secondary source for role identification. Informational books potentially could combat negative stereotypes before the first critical drop-out point for girls in science, namely before their transition to middle school, and could be used as an intervention mechanism.