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Expanding Girls’ Horizons In Math And Science: A Longitudinal Evaluation Of Eyh Conference Outcomes

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

K-12 Programs (Co-sponsored by K-12 Division)

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.707.1 - 12.707.24



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Paper Authors

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Mary Virnoche Humboldt State University

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Elizabeth Eschenbach Humboldt State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Expanding Girls’ Horizons in Math and Science: A Longitudinal Evaluation of EYH Conference Outcomes Abstract

Little longitudinal data is available on the effectiveness of Expanding Your Horizons conferences on impacting girls’ future decisions regarding math and science. The purpose of the conferences is to encourage girls to take more math and science in high school by exposing them to hands-on activities and role models in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This paper is based on interview data from 22 high school girls who between 2005 and 2006 participated in one-to-one interviews and small group discussions. These 22 girls as middle school students had all participated in an Expanding Your Horizons Conference at Humboldt State University. Themes and patterns across interview data emerged through the application of qualitative data analysis techniques and specialized software (NVivo). We specifically consider Native American and Caucasian girls’ memories of EYH and their perceptions of how participation in EYH influenced their high school course taking and career anticipation. While a few of the girls could not recall the EYH experience, most of the girls relayed detailed descriptions of their day. Some of these girls then drew connections between the EYH conference, their course taking actions and career goals. Results indicate that some girls take math and science in high school so they can attend college, but they have no intention of majoring in a STEM area. Suggestions for more effective EYH conferences include: 1) partner with engaged teachers and counselors of students with less college savvy parents to help these girls attend. 2) Workshop leaders must understand that workshops need to be hands-on and not “just like school” 3) If possible, provide girls opportunities to identify with women that “have it all” (beauty, popularity, intelligence and accomplishment). 4) Workshop leaders should be sure to explain their career paths, as girls are only exposed to the career paths they find in popular media. 5) Workshop leaders need to show multiple perspectives and solutions to problems and experimental design, as some girls find math and science unattractive because they think those types of problems only have one solution. 6) It is important to have multiple interventions over a girls’ teenage years as the positive impact of the EYH fades over time. 7) Role models and parents have lots of influence. Those schools need to hire female math and science instructors and teachers and parents need workshops to help them envision a broader future for their girls.

Keywords: Gender, Math, Science, Course Selection, Career Decisions, Evaluation


Even though girls perform as well as boys in science and math, there is a marked loss in interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) areas that occurs in middle school 1,2,3,4 . Research has shown that middle school girls’ attitudes about careers and math and science affect young women’s persistence and involvement in advanced coursework during their high school years 5. This finding suggests that there is a need for intervention at the middle school level or earlier. There are many possible causes for this change in interest. Different expectations for girls and boys can lead to gender bias in the classroom 6,7,8,9,10. Inadequate

Virnoche, M., & Eschenbach, E. (2007, June), Expanding Girls’ Horizons In Math And Science: A Longitudinal Evaluation Of Eyh Conference Outcomes Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3033

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