Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by windu34 » March 20th, 2018, 1:50 pm

My high school went from about 12M:3F (M=male, F=female) on the A team in 2016 to 7M:8F in 2017 and is currently like 3M:12F right now iirc. Interestingly enough:
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I would agree that team culture has a big impact on the M:F ratio - we have one male and one female coach so that likely helps as well.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by MattChina » March 20th, 2018, 2:26 pm

This doesnt happen in my school. On my team there are 4 boys and 11 girls.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by kate! » March 20th, 2018, 5:41 pm

MattChina wrote:This doesnt happen in my school. On my team there are 4 boys and 11 girls.
In other schools I've noticed that the teams are mostly equal, if not small majorities of either gender. Personally, for my school, there are many more girls, but from the competitions I've been to, I haven't noticed any majority.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by kenniky » March 20th, 2018, 9:27 pm

I'm drawing estimated numbers here because I don't feel like actually counting, but per grade, our boy:girl ratio has been 6:1, 6:7, 3:4, 10:1, 4:5, 3:3

Sometimes the ratio is pretty good and sometimes it's awful, but it only ever really swings towards boys.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by maxxxxx » March 20th, 2018, 10:47 pm

knottingpurple wrote: As a girl who does scioly, I think it's all about support from teachers/parents/other students or not.
windu34 wrote: I would agree that team culture has a big impact on the M:F ratio - we have one male and one female coach so that likely helps as well.
Yes, a lot of places have even male:female member ratios, but I know it wasn't always like this and I think it's safe to assume that authority figures and other peers are the most impactful in getting girls involved in STEM and other male-dominated areas (although a shift in policy on some level may force that to happen sooner in some places, I believe this would also be difficult to implement fairly but am in favor of it if they can come up with such a way). When I was in 6th grade my middle school's States team was 4 girls and 11 boys. Several girls in my grade joined and all dropped it. There were two female coaches(who had just started coaching) and 3 male coaches. Over the years as they settled in there was a much larger female presence on the team and we also had a few mothers of male students help the team as volunteers. I'm not sure about every elementary school in my district or every school that fed my middle school, but I know my elementary school has been bringing in events and programs aiming to get younger girls involved in STEM. Last year their States team was 15 girls(not saying it's good that there were no boys, but impressive that they had that many girls who were excited about a science competition) and they still had 2 female and 3 male coaches. My high school team also had very few girls up until last year when we had a large influx of underclassmen girls, some from the middle school's program and some that were friends with them. I may not have the numbers right but I think their Regionals team had 8+ girls compared to 4 and 5 at States in 2015 and 2016. I believe it's been balanced for far longer at other schools with larger programs, but these quick changes were due to the efforts of adults in the school district and the community, as well as the changing community created by members of science olympiad.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by syo_astro » March 20th, 2018, 10:51 pm

I believe there is research done on this. Please read through: https://www.soinc.org/about/research-studies (for example, the one by Dr. Forrester)

I can quote numerous things, but the documents are quite long. I'd also rather avoid anecdotes in this discussion unless they are properly used (which has only happened a few times in this discussion so far as I see it...won't name names, though). Also, do note that readers shouldn't assume expertise in these studies (unless...people here are?), but I hope primary sources inform people / people are aware about how to be careful while reading papers (e.g. Not to just take facts as given when they come from other studies).

Anyway, hope this helps someone's discussion, I found the paper interesting and informative anyway. The national website is quite useful (I think the gender gap even falls into one of the missions of scioly)!
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by SOCoach » March 25th, 2018, 5:53 am

I am a middle school coach and this year between my two teams (One regular team, one partial alternate team), I had 19 girls and 3 boys.

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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by zannash » April 1st, 2018, 5:08 pm

8/15 are girls on my team. Pretty evenly mixed. That was varsity. For our high school team, we have 7/13. Our junior varsity is 6/15. (Girls/Entire Team)
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by venules » April 7th, 2018, 3:18 pm

knottingpurple wrote:As a girl who does scioly, I think it's all about support from teachers/parents/other students or not.
Along a similar vein, I feel that peer pressure is much stronger in middle school than in high school. (Not to imply that girls care more about peer approval than boys, but they react in different ways.) I remember in seventh grade I had a group of friends that would make disparaging comments about my participation in Science Olympiad, and this, combined with the increasing pressure of competition, almost made me not return for SciOly in eighth grade. If students do not feel like they are receiving enough support, especially from the people who matter to them, they're going to back away from the situation. This especially applies to students involved in STEM, because, like knottingpurple said, girls are not recognized as being strong in these subjects or are outright discouraged from participating.

Fortunately, our team has a lot of girls, but I think the majority of them are also involved in other competitive events, such as sports, HOSA, Speech & Debate, DECA, etc. which probably creates some sort of protective factor. (ETA: also, most girls on the team are friends, which relates back to what knottingpurple said about support systems.)
syo_astro wrote:I believe there is research done on this. Please read through: https://www.soinc.org/about/research-studies (for example, the one by Dr. Forrester)
....
Anyway, hope this helps someone's discussion, I found the paper interesting and informative anyway. The national website is quite useful (I think the gender gap even falls into one of the missions of scioly)!
Thank you for sharing this! I skimmed the section about participating in science competitions, and I noticed that one of the female STEM majors commented that losing her competition made her feel like she was bad at science. This brought to mind a TED Talk I watched with the founder of Girls Who Code, and she had mentioned that girls were more willing to have nothing to show rather than show their mistakes. I think that this could also factor into why some girls drop out of Science Olympiad.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by alleycat03 » April 11th, 2018, 7:48 pm

All 4 years of high school, we have had an almost equal number of boys to girls. Our state team ratio of girls to total # of team members (including alternates) for the past 4 years was:
7/16
8/16
8/16
10/17

(# of girls/total # of people)

While this is entirely anecdotal, I do like to see the shift towards more girls on the team. All 5 of the seniors on the team are girls though so that ratio is most likely going to go down next year, depending on incoming freshmen. At state last weekend, there was a team sharing our homeroom that had 8 members, and they were all female, which I thought was really cool.
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