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Female student perceptions of single-sex physics instruction Brendel, Sylvia Doris 1992

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FEMALE STUDENT PERCEPTIONSOF SINGLE-SEX PHYSICS INSTRUCTIONbySYLVIA DORIS BRENDELB.Ed., The University of Calgary, 1982A THESISSUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THEDEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIADecember 1992© ^D. Brendel, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for anadvanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Libraryshall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree thatpermission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may begranted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It isunderstood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall notbe allowed without my written permission.Centre for the Study of Curriculum and InstructionThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDecember, 1992ABSTRACTMany students, and a particularly high proportion of females, do notstudy physics in high schools. Research indicates that segregation by sex mayhelp encourage increased enrolment of females in subject areas that have beentraditionally male dominated. The main objective of this study was to exploreand document female student perceptions of a single-sex physics class in acoeducational public high school. Data were drawn from a questionnaire and apersonal interview. All 20 students participated in the questionnaire presentedduring class time and 17 of the students volunteered to be interviewed.Appendices include the student questionnaire and interview questions.Significant findings of the study include:1. Class participation did increase due to the relaxed atmosphere ofthe class.2. There was little interest in single-sex instruction for other subjects.3. Prior to the course, students anticipated the content to be difficult.4. Once in the course, the perception of difficulty was reduced.5.^Student lack of involvement in the decision-making process leadsto student misunderstandings about the purposes of theintervention.6. There was frustration with the knowledge of the other grade 12physics class ahead in the curriculum.7. The sex of the teacher was not perceived as crucial for providinga role model.8.^Single-sex instruction as an isolated strategy may trivialize genderequity.The findings of this study suggest that for the majority of the students,the intervention has made no difference in their lives as females or as studentsof physics. All but one of the students had previously decided to study physicsregardless of the school's program. Parental influence, rather than theprogram, was a major factor in the decision to study physics.If increased female enrolment is a purpose of single-sex physicsinstruction, then schools need to reach potential physics students prior to highschool, and before high-school course decisions are made.There are a number of factors involved in the low participation rates ofwomen in scientific and technological professions. The best strategies arethose designed in consideration of, and collaboration with, the many factors thatare involved in the lives of girls and science.Perhaps the most significant finding of the study is that interventions thatare designed and implemented must also be monitored and evaluated asprofessional evidence of responsible accountability to society, parents, andstudents.Table of ContentsAbstract  ^iiTable of Contents ^List of Tables  ^viAcknowledgements ^  viiChapter One: Introduction  ^1Chapter Two: Girls and Science  ^15Chapter Three: Factors to Consider in DesigningIntervention Strategies  ^44Chapter Four: Methodology^  58Chapter Five: The Results  ^65Chapter Six: The Conclusions ^  104References ^  124Appendix A  134Appendix B ^  143List of TablesTable One: Post-Secondary Degrees Awarded to Women^ 16Table Two: High School Physics Enrolment for Girls and Boys,1985 - 1992 ^  69Table Three: Girls' Comments on Intimidation by Boys ^ 78Table Four: Why Girls Shy Away from Physics^  83Table Five: Do Girls and Boys Learn Differently? ^  86Table Six: Relationship between Physics Achievementand Interest in Science ^  90ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank all those people, both near and far, who havehelped me to realize this particular dream just by being there -- those whoplanned it that way and those who were there inadvertently. When despairseeped through, as it always will, it was rejuvenating to draw from theencouragement offered that kept me going especially during the darkest hour.My committee members, too, deserve a hearty applaud for their time,patience, and understanding given to this rookie researcher.A special thank you and appreciation is extended to the British ColumbiaMinistry of Education, Gender Equity Program, for the financial support given tome with the expense of doing research so far from Vancouver. I hope thisthesis will be of some help to the educators of British Columbia.1Chapter OneIntroductionWe all have a story to tell. Our stories come alive and are shared incountless ways from simple writing to a complex video presentation. In someway or another we all strive to share what our lives, with all its imperfections,discrepancies, and limitations, mean to us. In essence, we are all storytellersand all we need is an audience, even if only ourselves. To share our story is toinvite a glimpse into the psyche that commands every word, belief, and action.Sharing our story with others contributes to a broader understanding of humanexperience as well as contributing to a sense of self-understanding. Withenough glimpses, patterns can often be recognized and connected to a largerpicture. A principle resplendent in Plato's writings is that we cannot adequatelydefine humankind by attempting to explore individual experiences unless wealso view the individuals within the larger political and social contexts.This thesis is a story -- a story of a group of female high school studentsand the sense they make of a unique public school organizational practice ofsingle-sex physics instruction. More generally, it is a story of individualunderstandings of a school intervention that seeks to alter the traditional schoolexperience. Finally, it is a story that explores the tendency to offer a simple2solution to a complex problem. This thesis offers no grandiose solutions; itoffers an insight into the personal realities of those who may be literally heldhostage by the whims of the times.To an outsider, long since removed from the high school experience, astudent's world may look like an exciting, carefree, and vivacious existencereplete with dreams, promises, and opportunities at every corner. It is often aworld one wishes to return to for that second chance to rework ambitions and"do it right." What is often forgotten is the tenuous, exhaustive, and frighteningplight of existing in a vacuum, teetering precariously between childhood andadulthood. Carol Gilligan (1990) succinctly expresses the female adolescent, inparticular, as in danger of drowning or disappearing as she struggles to connectwith the world, with others in her life, and yet remain connected to herself.Upon closer examination, the female high school student appears to becaught in a web of external pressures, expectations, and challenges fromteachers, guidance counsellors, parents, peers, the school, the Ministry ofEducation, post-secondary institutions, the media, feminist groups, and societyas a whole. Is one voice able to hear itself, let alone be heard above the dinand hype of current philosophies? This thesis offers the voices of female highschool students on the brink of adulthood.It seems that public education has been a battlefield of opinion andpreference since its inception, from class struggles and racial conflicts, to the3more recent gender debates. It has been criticized as the instigator andperpetrator of most of society's ills with few periods of acclamation. Oneunderlying principle of most of the battles has been the desire for particulargroups to fully participate in the opportunities education is believed to offer.The view and subsequent promise of public education is one of equal accessfor all citizens, providing equal opportunity, and thus, fair to all. Though theconcept of fairness is basically a universal one, the definitions vary according toculture.The recent quest for gender justice in education began as a result of thebroader women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The unequalparticipation of women in economic, political, and social life became defined associal issues rather than individual circumstances. Women lacked power andopportunity and the schools were examined as one of the players in theirsubordination. Feminist researchers began documenting the hidden obstaclesthat denied women access to the opportunities men had. As a result, feministshave attempted to stimulate change to allow women fuller participation in allfacets of life.As a result, the issue of gender equity has become a legitimate topic ofdiscussion in education today. National and provincial government educationalauthorities and institutions have taken steps to attempt a response to the outcry4in many countries of gender inequalities. Is it possible to change the schools toreflect this new knowledge? Taylor (1985) tells us that schools, asorganizations, are constructed to resist change. Given the generallyconservative attitude of the facilitators of education, Taylor's idea may wellseem descriptive of reality. Though traditionally, public school was viewed as apolitically neutral enterprise, promising to correct social inequalities,reproduction theorists have made the accusation that schools actuallyreproduce the inequalities present in the larger society (Kelly & Nihlen, 1982).Florence Howe (1984) states that the school does reflect society and that"schools function to reinforce the sex-role stereotypes that children have beentaught by their parents, friends, and the mass culture we live in" (p. 67). Theperceived gender differences of yesterday are intricately involved in thestreaming practices and biases where girls and boys generally pursue differentgoals. Looked at through the larger societal lens, we see the origin of thefemale ghettos lacking economic, social, and political impact.Turner (as cited in Grant, 1989) offers four conditions to the concept ofequality that need to work in concert to achieve true equality, with the ultimatemeasurement of such being equal outcomes or results:1. ontological equality: fundamental equality of persons2. equality of opportunity to achieve desirable ends3. equality of conditions where there is an attempt to make theconditions of life equal4. equality of outcome or result. (p. 91)5With the recent re-emergence of women's rights to educational opportunities,researchers have diligently examined these four tenets and have found amyriad of historical and current conceptions that have consistently deniedequality between the sexes. Earlier feminist movements resulted in achievingrights to ontological equality and the equality of opportunity that the presentschooling system now embraces without debate. Equality of conditions andoutcome arguments have been seriously challenged by feminists and theaccusations have revealed a deeper level of injustice.Fennema and Meyer (1989), for example, point out that there is anunderlying assumption of equality in the public school system: the sexes arenot separated; teachers tend to teach whole groups; and, teachers, for themost part, do not consciously or willfully treat girls and boys differently to thepoint of unfairness. However, upon completion of junior high school, two verysignificant factors come into play -- streaming and option courses. Becausethese option exist, it has been assumed that students are not prevented ordiscouraged from taking certain subjects and thereby equal opportunity isachieved. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect that if equal opportunity isoperating, then equal representation or equal outcomes would occur.Numerous investigations into school practices uncovered possibleexplanations for the diverse career paths females and males were selecting.6The very subject areas culturally deemed prerequisites for economic, political,and social advancement were charged to be biased against femaleparticipation, thereby providing unequal conditions of education. Females arenot participating in the maths and physical sciences at the same rate as maleswhich results in the discrepancy in equal outcomes. In today's job market, themaths and sciences appear to be one of the springboards to participation insociety's power structures and women number few players.Extensive research studies have shown clearly that equal conditions, ortreatment, do not exist in most schools and classrooms from kindergarten touniversity (Byrne 1978; Fennema & Meyer, 1982; Skolnick, Langbort & Day,1982; Lockheed, 1984; Mahoney 1985; Spear, 1987; Spender 1983;Stanworth 1983). Boys are given preferential treatment in teacher-studentinteractions, with and in curricular resources, classroom space, and playgroundaccess. Guidance practices have consistently aligned advice to stereotypicalbeliefs. Looking at science, and physics in particular, the research studiesindicate a bias favoring males that has entrenched in its history a masculineimage. It is noted that teachers and schools, as part of the larger society, havebeen unwitting agents of the perpetuation of this image.Why are there differences in the conditions of equality between thesexes? Are these differences affecting the equality of outcomes? Somescholars have suggested that schools simply mirror the ideals and beliefs of asociety and therefore reproduce society's injustices, while other scholars seetremendous potential in the institution of school to correct social inequalities.As a result of the latter view, many educational programs have been designedover the years to provide a more equitable education for a number of diversegroups. Underlying all such designs are assumptions that serve to direct thepurposes of the interventions.Once the problem of gender inequalities has been established, solutionscan be sought to bring about gender equity in the public school system.Bennison, Wilkinson, Fennema, Masemann, and Peterson (1984) propose fourphilosophical models for achieving educational equity that may be used todesign educational programs. The first model, most prevalent in public school,is the assimilation model which assumes gender is not a characteristic of thecapacity to learn. The basic premise is that the outcomes of education will bethe same for both sexes because equal access to programs of study ispresented to all. One serious contradiction in the practice of this model occurswhen girls and boys are not treated equally, and boys are treated morefavorably in terms of accessing opportunities.The second model is a deficient approach which focuses oncompensating for undeveloped characteristics deemed necessary by the78dominant culture and it is generally accepted that the disadvantages are aresult of socialization practices. Intervention strategies designed to developgirls' spatial abilities in order to increase their participation in senior mathcourses is one example.The third model is a pluralist model that assumes different groups havedifferent needs which subsequently result in diverse outcomes. This modelvalidates varying perspectives that are not threatening to the dominantperspective. The first schools for girls were eventually accepted with thepersuasive arguments of female students becoming better wives and mothers.More prevalently, the practice of streaming in high schools is based on thismodel. More recent proponents of this model are usually interested in thecultural perpetuation of specific groups, bilingual programs being an example.Gender equity within this model assumes women are sharing the same cultureas the male dominant culture and an increase in female participation wouldresult in equal outcomes.The fourth and most controversial model is the justice model that acceptsdifferences among groups when relevant and ignores them when irrelevant tothe educational process. It subsumes characteristics of the other three models.The underlying premise of the justice model is that all people in a society havethe right to certain social goods and each new claim is judged against this9standard. Though a near universal principle of fairness exists, what constitutesit is often hotly debated. Affirmative action is one program based on thismodel.These four approaches to the issues of equality and equity illustrateunderlying assumptions that are often not articulated nor recognized by thosetrying to deal with the problems (Bennison, et al. 1984). It seems that until onedefines the fundamental beliefs of human equality, it is questionable whethergender equality can be understood fully.Interventions to address the inequitable conditions of science have beenplentiful and have been directed at raising teacher and student awarenessabout the value and worth of scientific endeavors. Many of the initialinterventions focused on providing girls with experiences to develop favorableskills and attitudes that boys had traditionally gained through childhoodexperiences and expectations. Interventions of this sort strive to challengestereotypes and alter girls' misconceptions of sciences as a masculine activity.There is, however, the shadow of blaming the victim which is an undesirablemessage for many (Kelly, 1987a).Other interventions have focused on less of a compensatory model.Bentley and Watts (1987) describe an intervention approach that seeks tochange the science classroom to accommodate and thus validate studentinterest, which includes the context of social and ethical concerns. This more10holistic approach attempts to unite social concerns with the dominant yetisolated concerns in scientific investigations. Another component of this type ofapproach is less emphasis placed on competitiveness while encouraging morecollaborative approaches to problem-solving.A different perspective on the issue of girls and science has been gainingground recently. It proposes that science itself is partly to blame in itsreluctance to accommodate the interests and needs of underrepresentedgroups, women included. This possibility has led some researchers to explorethe historical construction of science that subsequently leads to questioning thedefinitions of what constitutes science. This exploration questions the rigidity ofthe subjects, methods, and subsequent interpretations of traditional science.The purpose of this thesis is to examine one high school's strategy ofsingle-sex physics instruction to bring about some gender equity. Though theexact process by which the school arrived at the decision to offer the programis unknown to me, there seems to be a general fit to a gender-equity modelsuggested by Millman (1989). Emphasizing the importance of each schoolexamining itself prior to any decision-making, Millman suggests three steps inthe process of school self-examination:111. the collection and analysis of their own school data2. a diagnosis of the problems and needs found3.^possible solutions.It appears a discrepancy in enrolment figures was identified in the school data,which led to a diagnosis as to the reasons, and subsequently, the solution ofsingle-sex physics instruction was chosen. The school's objectives were toincrease the female enrolment rate in first- and second-level physics anddecrease the attrition rate in the second-level physics classes.The intervention program began with an all-female Physics 30 class in the fallof 1989. Physics 10 is the first-level physics course but it is most oftencombined with Physics 20 and taught in one semester as Physics 10/20 tograde 10 and 11 students. Physics 30 is the final high school level physicscourse. There has only been the 'one teacher involved in the special physicsprogram.At the time of this study, the program was nearing the end of its thirdyear. The school had not kept, nor has since produced, any formal analysis ofthe enrolment figures over the years prior to and since the program's inceptionthough an increase in female enrolment was one of the program's objectives.This may seem somewhat lax on the part of the school, but the principalexplained that the school is not interested in producing statistics, but rather,interested only in their students. The school did not have an end date in mindbut the principal thought the program may run for another year or two.12The school, for whatever reasons, did not present the collection andanalysis of their data nor the research, to the female population they wereattempting to encourage, to see whether the students themselves perceived aneed for change in school policy and their own educational choices. Millman(1989) questions what chance there is for a breakthrough if students do not seea need for change? This, in part, is one reason why I chose to examine whatthis experiment has meant to one class of grade 12 female physics studentswho came to the school as grade 10 students in the program's first year.There are limitations in the study which need to be mentioned. Onelimitation is the brief encounter the students had with the researcher whom theydid not know. Although I believe the students felt comfortable with me, thediscourse could still be affected by this context. Another limitation is that themeanings gleaned from the students were based on the completion of aquestionnaire and a 20- minute interview. As well, there are only 20 studentsrepresented in the questionnaire items and 16 in the interviews, which severelylimits the generalizability of the study. Finally, though six informal observationswere conducted, formal classroom observations with were not part of the studybecause of my own unfamiliarity with the teaching and learning of grade 12physics. Formal classroom observations, with detailed field notes, would likelyhave enriched the study by adding another facet of the whole intervention.13My interest in the meanings the students themselves make of theintervention is subsequent to the realization that the student voices are oftennot heard amidst the flurry of educators attempting to make the world a betterone. Students become adults soon enough and what is presented to them aschildren and adolescents will have a significant effect on their own conceptionsof a better world. It is my belief that students will provide us a mirror with whichto measure our best intentions, if we are brave enough to look.This thesis will also show that the mere implementation of an isolatedstrategy to affect change in enrolment rates is unrealistic. The gender equityissue extends far beyond the science or physics, classroom. To keep it theretrivializes the complexity of the women and science issue. It is recommendedthat a team of significant players supporting multiple strategies that areregularly monitored and evaluated is what makes for change.As with any story, there is structure to this thesis. The research questionguiding the entire study was the need to know what sense the students madeof the school's intervention strategy. Chapter Two presents the literaturereviewed to gain an understanding of the larger picture of the women andscience issue. The third chapter explores the various programs that have beenattempted to increase female enrolment and highlights a number of factors thathave shown themselves to be possible resources in the design of schoolstrategies to bridge girls and science. Chapter Four describes the research14methodology concerning the recovery of the students' sense of the intervention.The fifth chapter consists of the interpretation of the data; and finally, ChapterSix presents the study's conclusions.15Chapter TwoGirls and ScienceThis chapter will address society's need for scientists, science'semergence into the public school curriculum, and the underrepresentation ofwomen in science. Reasons for this lack of female participation in the scienceswill be reviewed in the research using three foci: biologically determineddifferences; the perpetuation of a masculine image; and, the construction ofscience that sanctions specific characteristics of, and approaches to,investigation procedures.It is generally accepted that the lifestyle afforded by industrial nationsdepends on an adequate number of able scientists, technologists and skilledworkers in the scientific community. A report on Canada's future needs claimsthat a shortage of highly qualified scientists and engineers is anticipated if weare expected to continue in world competition (Hennebury, 1989). The U.S.Office of Technology Assessment (1986) has predicted an increased need forscientists in the 1990s. They suggest more women need to be encouraged toenter the professions and support the removal of the barriers that have servedto prevent female participation. It is clear that the underrepresentation of girlsin science is a factor in reducing their job and career opportunities. Evenwithout using the high school sciences as prerequisites to a variety of jobs, girls17Doctoral Master's Bachelor of ArtsField of Study cY0 (n) cY0 (n) cs/0 (a)Education 46 (127) 63 (1,973) 70 (11,824)Humanities 42 (127) 58 (1,226) 63 (7,995)Social Sciences 42 (215) 42 (2,678) 55 (21,753)Agricultural/Biological Sc. 28 (85) 46 (375) 57 (4,115)- Biology 26 (25) 43 (131) 54 (2,090)Engineering/Applied Sciences 7 (19) 14 (196) 14 (1,064)Math/Physical Sciences 16 (79) 22 (247) 29 (1,894)- Chemistry 25 (45) 29 (52) 37 (363)- Mathematics 16 (12) 24 (60) 39 (807)- Physics 6 (7) 14 (25) 14 (102)Statistics Canada, 198916are losing out on the fundamental principles of a general and broad educationespecially given the technological direction of today's society.Since the resurgence of the women's movement in the 1960s, one areaparticularly stimulated by the issue has been the domain of science. Sciencehas been traditionally characterized as powerful, authoritarian and masculine.Twenty three years ago, Astin (1969) looked at the female doctorates inAmerica and concluded that women were undisputedly underrepresented in theprofessional scientific community. Statistics Canada (1989) reports the numberof post-secondary degrees awarded to women and men which shows acontinued discrepancy in the natural sciences as Table 1 illustrates. Thespecific area of studies that correspond to high school sciences are indentedunder the broader field of study. Math is included in the same way because ofits traditional relationship with the physical sciences.Table 1Post-Secondary Degrees Awarded to Women 18Clearly, women are engaged in post-secondary pursuits but they are notparticipating in great numbers in what have been described as the hardsciences, namely applied and physical. Women remain undisputedlyunderrepresented in the professional, scientific community.Using the UNESCO Statistical Yearbooks, Kelly (1978) computedpercentages in science at the tertiary level across 80 countries. Notingconsiderable variances from country to country, her conclusions were that "onlyin African and western countries were women underrepresented in sciencerelative to other subjects" (p. 6). It is interesting to note that in East Europeancountries 49.1% of the students in natural sciences were women compared toWestern countries where only 25% were women.Looking at Britain's statistics at various educational levels, Kelly (1978)reports that women were overrepresented in biology, underrepresented inchemistry, and even more underrepresented in physics with the ratio increasingat each level of education with the major loss at age 16, when subject choicesare generally made.Not only is female participation significantly lower than male participation,those females enrolled in science courses have generally demonstrated lowerachievement. Lower achievement may contribute to less confidence andinterest in participation when females are presented with a choice. In 1975,the American National Assessment of Education Progress, confirming a19previous national U.S. survey, reported boys' performance as better than girls'in science with the gap widening with age. Physical science saw larger sexdifferences than biological science in both surveys (cited in Kelly 1978). InEastern Europe, at the same time, similar sex differences were found.Interestingly, the same patterns were not revealed in Poland where littleperformance difference was found between girls and boys. However, incountries where research of this nature was being done, marked sexdifferences were reported with the gap increasing with each educational level.In an international study of 14 countries, females consistently performed belowmales. In only one country, Japan, did the girls achieve at a comparable levelto that of all boys (Kelly 1981). The differences in achievement are greatest forphysics and least, if at all, for biology. Many researchers have stronglycorrelated this to student preferences and interests which will be discussed laterin this chapter.In a study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluationof Educational Achievement (1988), a comparison of science achievement in 17countries found boys generally outperforming girls at all grade and age levels.Almost all the countries show this disparity increasing with grade level. Girls asunderachievers in the sciences appears to be an undisputed, international fact.Since the science debate and subsequent advent of science content inthe public school curriculum, it has been assumed that all students have had20access to sciences courses in the secondary school. Much of the research intowhy girls do not elect to take sciences, especially the physical sciences,focuses on a deficit model implying that if girls could simply "catch-up" withmales, or if girls could just gain "more confidence" they would be able toparticipate more fully. However, it was not that long ago, in 1930, when thescience community was wondering why so few students were electing to takehigh school chemistry and physics. In 1930, a US survey of educators andadministrators asked why student enrolments in chemistry and physics weredeclining and girls' lack of interest was noted as one of the many reasons(DeBoer, 1991). Shortly thereafter, a curriculum reform followed whereincontent, materials and activities were adapted to better suit the science needsof the students. Though not an aim of the reform specifically, it was expectedthat enrolment in the science courses would increase. It did not.In the mid 1950s, scientists became involved in an attempt to bringscience into the intellectual arena as part of a liberal education for all students.Shortly after that the U.S. government joined the crusade, after the 1957launching of the U.S.S.R.'s space explorer, Sputnik. Science education hadbecome a national security concern. In 1964, physics educators were soconcerned about persistent low enrolment that a number of national studieswere conducted to discover the reasons for it. As DeBoer (1991) states (usingV. Young's survey conclusions), "the results, again, overwhelmingly supported21the belief that high school physics courses were too difficult" (p. 170). DeBoertells us that a new focus in science education emerged in the late 1960s -- thatof scientific literacy with a relationship between science and society as part ofevery student's educational experience.Prior to the resurfacing interest in women's experience of the last twodecades, educators undoubtedly were aware of the diverse paths girls andboys generally took, but it was not perceived as a problem. The question ofwhy there is an underrepresentation of women in science has recently beenasked by many feminists with an eye particularly at the high school level wherecareer choices are generally made. In the last twenty years there has been anextensive amount of research in this area where researchers have attempted toexplain the phenomena of little female participation in the scientific professions.Once the option of course selection is offered, significant differences areseen in subjects taken while prior to secondary school, girls and boys areengaged in the learning of the same subjects. In fact, Skolnick, Langbort andDay (1982) report that in elementary school girls and boys start off equal inmath and science performance, and, as far as we know, in interest. Zerega,Haertel, Tsai and Walberg's (1986) study show no significant differences inscience achievement at the early adolescent level. Yet, later adolescent yearsshowed differences as significant. Countless studies have been undertaken inan attempt to explain the reasons for this discrepancy between boys and girls22choosing the sciences and maths as a career path. Undoubtedly, taking highschool science and math courses creates greater opportunities in post-secondary options. Still, many girls continue to choose traditional female jobswhile economically the key areas are in the sciences and technologies.A review of the research studies shows three explanations to account forthe differences between female and male participation rates in the naturalsciences. The traditional explanation was that biological differences determinedintellectual differences with males physiologically, and thus inherently, betterequipped to master the knowledge and skills of scientific inquiry. Anotherexplanation proposes that a masculine image of science has been perpetuatedand suggests a change in this image to reflect a balanced one as the solution.A more recent explanation considers the social construction of science asinherently masculine and therefore questionable as gender neutral. Thesethree explanations will be reviewed.Biological ExplanationNevitte, Gibbins, and Codding (1990) claim the hypothesis of biologicaldifferences was the common explanation for so few women in the scientificprofessions during the 1970s. There was an acceptance of the perceivedscientific skills of quantitative ability, visual-spatial ability, and field articulationas being biologically determined. Hyde (as cited in Steinkamp & Maehr, 1984)23found "small yet persistent differences between males and females" (p. 45)within these three specific areas. The differences accounted for no more thanone to five percent of the population variance. Steinkamp and Maehr concludethat the differences are not substantial enough as an explanation forachievement differences. The biological explanation has been challengedvigorously due to weak correlations and variance factors, let alone thecontroversies over data interpretations. Further, this line of reasoning does notaccount for the evidence indicating that the women who do pursue scienceachieve levels comparable to males and sometimes outperform them.Findings from the International Association for the Evaluation ofEducation study of 14 developed countries found that Hungarian and Japanesefemale students achieved higher mean scores than boys in all countries inchemistry, with Japanese girls achieving physics mean scores comparable tothose of boys in other countries (Kelly, 1981). A recent Thailand study foundthat girls outperformed boys in high school chemistry and physics. In Thailand,the science stream is a prestigious one and attracts the more able students, anattraction that has been balanced between the sexes. It is interesting to notethat students who select the science stream must take all three sciences ingrades 10, 11, and 12 (Klainin, Fensham & West, 1989).Kimball (1981) states that the biological explanation appears to persist tosome degree in that many assume girls do not do well in science "because of24biologically determined inferiority in mathematical and spatial abilities, and thatefforts to improve their participation are futile and misdirected" (p. 48). Birke(1986) protests that the ability to solve a few spatial problems is hardlyindicative of success in a science career. The challenges to the deterministicview have somewhat altered common perceptions of inherent capabilities.In an analysis of 15 years of research, Friedler and Tamir (1990) reportwide acceptance of no sex differences in intellectual capacity between girls andboys. However, they specifically found in three IQ subscales that: 1) girls havean advantage verbally, and, 2) boys are advantaged numerically and spatially.Equally so, an earlier U.K. study argued that the differences in spatial abilitiesare not a significant predictor (Kelly, 1987b; Rosenthal & Rubin, 1982). Theysupport their conclusions by addressing the fact that nearly 40% of engineers inthe USSR are women. Kelly (1987b) suggests that the differences in spatialability are far more likely to be a symptom of the problem as boys likely developspatial ability through the toys and tools they play with and the activitiestraditionally engaged in as children. Kimball (1981) refutes any illusions aboutbiological differences in motivation by stating that the variance is too small toaccount for the differences in representation of the two sexes.Compounding many of the studies on achievement in science is thedifference in the number of science courses that each sex has previously hadwhich may skew the outcomes. Frequently boys have had more science25courses than girls at the time of a study but this factor has not always beenrecognized as a variable in the research data (Zerega, et al., 1986; Kimball,1981; Mura, Kimball, & Cloutier, 1987). It also should be noted thatresearchers, as a rule, tend to focus more on the differences between girls andboys while the data indicates a greater variance within each group (Kelly,1987).It is fitting to conclude this section on biological differences between girlsand boys with a quote from Florence Howe (1984), an esteemed Americaneducator:John Stuart Mill was the first man (since Plato) to affirm that we couldknow nothing about innate sexual differences, since we have neverknown of a society in which either men or women lived wholly separately.Therefore, he reasoned, we can't 'know' what the pure 'nature' of eithersex might be. What we see as female behavior, he maintained, is theresult of what he called the education of 'willing slaves' (p. 67).Acceptance of the biological explanation appears to be acceptancewithout a structural basis, as Mill so aptly describes. However, it seemsbiological differences do persist as a popular explanation to account forindividual preferences and/or talents. Neurological research on brainlateralization has, in piecemeal, become titillating news for everydayconversation. What is clear, however, is that women and men are equippedwith the same organs and senses that function to perceive and interpretinformation and the environment. What may be different is what individuals do26with the information they receive and that seems more a matter of preferenceor perspective than physiology. It is more reasonable that the problem is notthat girls do not perform as well in the sciences, but that they opt out of theopportunity to study them. With the biological differences debate reasonablyrefuted, educational researchers began to explore cultural and social influencesthat were serving to steer girls from the sciences, and physics in particular.Masculine ImageA second explanation for gender differences in science concerns themasculinity of traditional science that has been perpetuated. Kelly (1987a)states there are three distinct features that allude to the image of masculinity ofthe science domain that systematically socialize girls away from it:1) individuals predominant in science2) packaging of science3)^classroom interactions that promote the imageThese characteristics will be examined more closely. Given theemergence of science in the public school arena at a time when society hadexplicitly defined masculine and feminine roles, it is not surprising that menwere the scientists. Also given the rigor of groups of scientists who appearedto have the control of life at their fingertips, i.e. the atomic bomb, weaponry and27space exploration, countries had become pitted against one another in anattempt to safeguard their interests. In this cloud of mystery, behind secretivelaboratory doors and reticent personalities, the common person in societyalmost revered scientists in some magical way.In 1953 an American psychologist, Anne Roe, wrote The Making of a Scientist based upon her sociological survey of 64 white male scientists.Throughout the text her reverence for these accomplished men is evident.Roe's character sketches of the scientists have been described by VivianGornick (1990) as "private, civilized, cheerfully lonely men" (p. 35). Roe's bookappears to have confirmed and further illuminated the institution of science as amale domain. It is hardly surprising, then, that recently in a grade sixclassroom in Western Canada, when the teacher asked students to draw apicture of a scientist, all but one girl drew a male. This student's mother was ascientist at the local university. As a result of this biased revelation, the teacherinvited the scientist to visit. The woman came in a dress and high heels andwas told by the students that she did not look like a scientist. However, uponthe woman donning a lab coat, sporting spectacles, and mussing her hair, thestudents were able to identify the scientist (Kaye, 1991).The media has simply reflected the male model of scientist in such filmproductions as "Frankenstein," "The Fly," "Back to the Future," "Dr. Jekyll andMr. Hyde," as well male hosts of CBC Television's "The Nature of Things," and28CBC Radio's "Quirks and Quarks." When the media has generated images offemale scientists, the message has been negative. Lynda Erickson (1981)reports that:Books, movies and television programs frequently portray womenin science as serious, dowdy, rather unsociable unfemininepeople. These images are not attractive to teenage girls, and theyreinforce the notion that science is an area for masculine people(p. 91).Zerega et al. (1986) state that:A negative perception of women in science may lead to lowerachievement and motivation for 17 year old females, and thusarbitrarily deny opportunities to girls, and a source of humanintellectual capital or resources to the nation (p. 460).Another generally accepted endorsement of masculine scientific prowessis the packaging of science in resource materials. Textbook authors and bookpublishers have persistently illustrated males in far greater number and on therare occasion when a female was shown, it was clearly in a position ofsubordination. Research has shown that the science textbook plays anundeniable role in determining classroom events (Barr, 1988; Cole & Griffin,1987). With over 90% of all science teachers using a textbook 95% of the time,(Harmes & Yager, 1981) it is evident that this vital resource requires constantpolicing. Recently, textbook publishers have attempted to respond to thelobbyists by revamping their lucrative commodity to reflect a less biasedposition. Kahle (1985) studied the reformed textbooks and reported that29progress had been made, however limited. While more equal representation ofthe sexes in the illustrations was presented, female contributions were not partof the written text.Children learn about many male scientific contributions such as those ofNewton, Einstein, Banting, Galileo, and Fleming, to name but a few, butwhoever learns that Einstein's first wife was a physicist whom some peoplebelieve should have shared his 1921 Nobel Prize? What child learns thecontribution of Canadian nuclear physicist, Harriet Brooks, who identified radongas at the turn of the century or Britain's Dorothy Hodgin's 1964 Nobel Prize forher work with the structure of the B12 vitamin? Girls and boys view science asit is presented and that is clearly a male defined image. As Kelly (1987c)succinctly summarizes:The word 'image' is closely linked to 'imaginary' and... suggest[s] thatthe masculinity of science is only an illusion, not an intrinsic part of itsnature (p. 75).Children's images of science appear to depend upon impressions andinformation they gain from parents, teachers, peers, and society as a whole.Recently watching a 16 mm film on lasers with a grade twelve class ofgirls, I was entranced by the opening five minute segment of a scantily cladyoung woman gyrating to music as her fingertips orchestrated a spectacularshow of the color spectrum. The male teacher interjected and apologized for30the sexism displayed, just before going off into a corner of the lab to do somework. Later in the film, the all-male cast was conducting a laser transmissionusing a newspaper advertisement of women's undergarments. Not a word wassaid in the room; not a hint of physical reaction was observed as I quicklymonitored for reactions from the students. As I had almost missed the subtletyof the event, I wondered if I was the only one to realize consciously what hadjust been presented.As shown in extensive research, parental expectations andencouragement of perceived appropriate sex behaviours, toys, and activities,children often come to the kindergarten classroom with well defined sexstereotypes. As two kindergarten teachers told me, boys resist the kitchencentre; girls resist the building centre. Research has consistently demonstratedthat teachers also treat girls and boys differently, which may have significancefor female motivation and interest in the physical sciences. The school hasallegedly served to perpetuate the sex stereotypes started earlier, with teachersspending more time with boys all around and gearing topics to the interest ofboys. England's Girls into Science and Technology (GIST) project researchersspent many hours in science classrooms specifically looking for inequalities inteaching-student exchanges and for clues as to what it is about science thatcauses girls to lose interest. Whyte (1985) states:31We found that boys acted in a way which made science seem moremasculine than it really is; the teachers also helped to create theimpression that science is a very macho business (p. 81).Margaret Crossman's (1987) study investigated biology and physicsclassrooms and found that, overall, teachers (equally male and female)interacted with boys one and a half times more than with girls. The femaleteachers had a greater number of interactions favoring males at one and threequarters times more than the girls. The physics teachers' interactions favoredboys more than the biology teachers'. Looking specifically at teacher and pupil,once again, the balance favored the boys. Statistically significant resultsfavoring the males were shown in teacher acceptance of ideas, teachercriticism, and teacher selection of boys to answer questions. It is pertinent tomention here, in light of low female enrolment figures, that the sampleconsisted of 65 girls and 70 boys. At the conclusion of the study, informalinterviews were held with the staff and the teachers were told of theresearcher's purpose. Crossman's description of the response of femaleteachers who favored males, warrants reproduction here.One female teacher claimed that she made no distinction between boysand girls, while the other two female teachers, said that they made aspecial effort to include and encourage the girls. These decisions arenot reflected in the results obtained (p. 64).32Monitoring one's own behavior while involved in the complexity of instruction isnot so easily or accurately done.It is suggested that student motivation is intricately woven with teacherexpectations, attitudes, and beliefs. Kearns (1989) looked at teacher responsesand found that "the achievements of girls tend to be seen in the context of theirsocial expertise, those of boys in terms of getting the task done" (p. 61). Oldhabits die hard. It is paramount to consider that as active members of society,teachers and parents, as well as students, are affected by this masculine aurain the sciences.Some researchers have proposed that it is easier to challenge the maleimage of science in an all-girls school where the staff is more likely to bewomen and the senior students of science are girls (Kelly 1987b). They claimthat girls' interests can be addressed and capitalized upon without interferencewith and subsequent adherence to, the interests of the boys.Citing Pratt et al.'s postal survey of subject preference, Whyte (1986)states that 37% of girls in single-sex schools elect to take physics while only16% do so in coeducational schools. However, without a more completeexplanation of just what the postal survey entailed, these figures may be a littledubious, though the findings did confirm Ormerod's (1975) national study ofsecondary schools that showed the division between male and female subjectsas more marked in coeducational schools. Vockell and Lobona (1981) and Lee33and Bryk (1986) found that girls in single-sex schools are far less likely to viewscience careers as exclusively male. It appears that girls in single-sex schoolsare less affected by the masculine or feminine image of a subject.There is a growing body of evidence that consistently documents girls'higher achievement and enrolment in, and more positive attitudes towards, themaths and sciences in single-sex schools (Bryne, 1978; Hamilton, 1985, Harris,1986; Lee & Bryk, 1986; Rowe, 1988; Riordan, 1990; Young & Fraser 1990).Confounding all studies, to some degree, however, is that single-sex schoolstend to be private and generally serve a middle- to upper-class clientele.Recent studies, however, controlled for the variance in socio-economic status(SES), found statistically significant differences in science education for girlsfavoring single-sex schools (Lee & Bryk, 1986; Young & Fraser, 1990). Somestudies used Catholic single- and mixed-sex schools in order to control furthervariables. Lee and Bryk (1986) and Riordan's (1985) U.S. studies controlled forrace, SES, sex, and geographic region and found sufficient evidence thatsingle-sex schools may well be more advantageous for female students.Comparing single-sex schools and coeducational schools, Harvey and Stables(1986) suggest there may well be advantages for girls to be taught the physicalsciences in an all-female environment.An argument for coeducational settings is that girls are presented with abroader range of non-traditional courses and thereby presented with an equal34opportunity. As statistics indicate, some girls have taken advantage of theopportunity to explore and study the sciences beyond secondary school despitethe masculine portrait presented. They have become scientists with many ofthem also incorporating other priorities such as raising children and maintaininga home. It is clear that women like and enjoy scientific activity as much asmen, but it is evident that their contributions and endeavors have not alwaysbeen widely accepted into the discipline as valid or acceptable. Most girls arenot taking advantage of the situation as indicated by enrolment figures fromsecondary school up through post-secondary. These figures have led someresearchers to ask why. Why are girls not enroling in the science courses atthe same rate as boys? What are female students thinking? Are traditional sexroles still operating? Is there something more entrenched in the nature ofscience?Construction of ScienceA third line of inquiry recently explored in the research to explain markeddifferences in male and female participation in the sciences has been that theconstruction of science itself fails to appeal to the interests and needs of manyfemales. Some researchers have found that boys are more science motivated(Harvey & Stables, 1986) and that they rate the social environment of theirscience classroom more positively than girls (Zerega et al., 1986). Extensive35evidence, from a number of countries, suggests that classroom climate predictscognitive and affective achievement gains (Walberg, 1983). Recent findings(Milner, Ben Zui, & Hofstein, 1986) have clearly shown that enrolment figures inscience are highly dependent on students' personal feelings -- how interestingthey find their science studies and how confident they feel about learningscience.Though science advocates have long touted science's impersonal,separate, and objective tenets as the criteria of pure investigation, this hasbeen challenged recently by many voices to be mechanistic, artificial, anddehumanizing. Lynda Birke (1986) elaborates:Too much of modern science is highly mechanistic and reductionistic....It is a way of looking at the world that many people, but particularlywomen, find difficult to understand and often find abhorrent. It has alsobeen successful, enabling humanity to exploit the environment and touse human creativity to produce innovative forms of technology, yet it isprecisely this sense of science as enabling exploitation which many findobjectionable (pp. 195-196).Sandra Harding (1991) states that "almost all natural science research is drivenby technology" (p. 60). The need for bigger, better, faster, stronger products tokeep up profits has overriden the potential for science and technology toimprove conditions of life for all people. Though she qualifies that individualscientists may not be motivated by the same appeal, the research funderscertainly seem to have visions of control and profit. Science is undoubtedly36dependent upon financial support and given that much of scientific research issupported by private business and military interests of governments, motivationbehind scientific support becomes highly questionable.The conventional view of science has its roots in the desire tounderstand, control and dominate nature's mysteries. Weinreich-Haste (1986)tells us that the prescribed father of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes,reaffirmed Plato's separation of reason and emotion by exalting scientificactivity as "rational, untouched by emotion, analytical, objective" (p. 117). Shegoes on to say that across most cultures women have been consistently viewedin opposition as "more emotional, less rational, more intuitive, childlike andpassive" (p. 117) and that these characteristics have become regarded asfeminine characteristics and consequently less valued. Evelyn Fox Keller(1986) states that modern science "is constituted around a set of exclusionaryoppositions, in which that which is named feminine is excluded, and that whichis excluded - be it feeling, subjectivity, or nature - is named female" (p. 173).Prominent feminists have suggested that women may well approach thesciences quite differently than men, not so much in opposition to men, butcertainly with a different perspective (Harding, 1986; Keller, 1987; Rosser,1990, Walton, 1986).This view that women may approach the sciences with a different butequally valid perspective is building momentum. It has been suggested that the37young girl's gender identification with the mother leads to the female developinga greater sense of connectedness and relationship between the self and others(Birke, 1986). Carol Gilligan's (1982) work with morality indicates that thefemale is generally more committed to the condition of context and relationshipwhere impartial judgement is unacceptable. This insight leads us to considerthat the social context cannot be ignored in any human endeavor, includingscientific inquiry. Scientist Anne Walton (1986) conducted a study of femalescientists in various fields and found that all their work had "strong humanitarianconnotations" (p. 10). Sue Rosser's (1990) study of women scientists foundthat while none of the women violated the basic scientific method of inquiry, thewomen demonstrated differences in observation strategies, methods of datacollection, and the conclusions and theories drawn from the data that have notalways been readily or immediately accepted. To illustrate further, the work ofJane Goodall Lawick and Barbara McClintock was not in line with the scientificnorms and expectations of their times. Both of them challenged the traditionalscientific method of impersonal objectivity, defined in the isolation of researcherfrom the subject investigated, as they strove to enhance their understanding ofscience and nature. Their scientific contributions were relational and in conflictwith scientific rules and boundaries though they have since been reexaminedand consequently accepted as valid (Harding, 1985; Keller, 1986).Though many feminists retreat from the notion of a solely female38perspective unknown to males, it is clear that Goodall and McClintock bring tous a "lesson in diversity" (Keller, 1986, p. 175). It has been suggested that afeminine perspective, or perhaps more precisely, a holistic view of nature andits mysteries, would also serve to attract and appeal to many more males aswell. Given the rise of groups concerned with science's potential for destructionof many of the earth's resources, a more holistic view seems most appropriatefor the conservation of our world.In her survey of school age children through to undergraduate students,Helen Weinreich-Haste (1986) concludes that the scientific myth persists --scientific subjects are seen as "hard, complex, based on thought rather thanfeeling, abstract and masculine" (p. 115). Harding and Sutoris (1987) reportthat girls are more inclined to view science in terms of relationships and itsrelevance to human needs while boys are more inclined to view science inabstract terms. If science and technology are presented and perceived asmasculine and irrelevant to human needs, then it is hardly surprising that mostgirls are simply not interested. Lynda Birke (1986) states that "science'smasculinity comes into direct conflict with their self-concept of femininity andwomen's roles." She elaborates:However ill founded it may be, our culture shares a common image ofscience that it is somehow remote, abstract, and requires a degree ofseparation of the human observer from the natural world - the truepursuit of objectivity. If girls do tend to see themselves as more39embedded in relationshipd with both other people and with nature, thenthey are not going to find this image of science either convincing orappealing (p. 190).Harding (1986) suggests that many more female students would be motivatedto explore the sciences if the social context was an integral component and thepotential of serving human needs was made explicit.Clearly there are gender problems that need solutions in the scientificarena. How does a society go about solving them when there remainsuncertainty and little agreement as to the boundaries and responsibilities of thedispute? Debating and discussing the issue in books, journals, andnewspapers is not sufficient. One thing that is most evident in thesediscussions, however, is the discrepancy in the participation rates of men andwomen in the sciences. Some people have gone beyond the discussion toattempt a plan of action to address the discrepancy.Advocates of the masculine image of science explanation appear tobelieve that increasing the number of women in science will change the imageto one less gender specific. This philosophy has stimulated a number ofintervention strategies aimed at eliminating the gender bias in scientific andtechnological professions. A myriad of collective efforts have been directed atspecific programs to encourage girls to enter traditionally male disciplines. Thejustification for these intervention strategies is that the biological hypothesis of40gender discrepancy in interest and career aspirations is fallacious. The mainthrust is an attempt to make equality of outcomes the result of equality ofopportunity.Some researchers have explored the idea that the move to encouragegirls into the sciences may serve to undermine and devalue the traditionalareas where females have excelled (Elliott & Powell, 1987; Whyte, Deem, Kant& Cruickshank, 1985). This push into the science fields may surreptitiouslygive them more status and value. Whyte, et al. (1985) however, recognize thatit has been educationally expedient for girls to focus on these traditionallyfeminine subjects. It is important, then, to ensure interventions are notconstructed on a female deficit model but rather, on a model of scientific inquirythat accommodates female interests and concerns. Rosser (1990) explains thatwomen approach scientific inquiry differently from the traditional male approachin the way observations are carried out and in the method of data collection.There are many instances where women's contributions have revolutionized aparticular area of science.ConclusionThis chapter has briefly examined the introduction of science into theschool curriculum as part of the education for all students. As a result of thediscipline permeating every facet of human life with the promise to make life41safer, healthier, and more prosperous, science has become a prized, powerful,and apparently coveted activity. Along with the interest in technologicalprogress, a myriad of new job opportunities have resulted, while displacing anumber of conventional careers.The recent resurgence of the women's movement resulted in the study ofvarious human activities to pinpoint those that were, in some way, abetting theoppression of half the population. The discipline of science was revealed to bea powerful area where few women participated and the challenge of thisstaggering discrepancy fuelled a debate in the subsequent attempt to explainthe reasons.Though the numbers of females electing to pursue science courses werefew, it appears to have been viewed as evidence that males were intellectuallymore capable. Given the traditional socialization of gender roles, this viewsustained for many generations. Women who persisted, and were judgedsuccessful, were seen as the exception and more like men than women.Studies suggested that females were biologically not able to sustain the rigorrequired in science as they demonstrated poorer achievement and aptitudescores.Many advocates of the women's movement revisited the researchstudies and called into question other variables that may have been operatingto skew the results in a more fundamental way. Thus began the task of looking42beyond the statistical data and exploring the socialization factors that werepresenting obstacles to women's participation in the science community. Thecharge of science perpetuating a masculine image became diligently examinedand revealed a systematic socialization that served to steer females away fromscience. Through feminist efforts, it was shown that science indeed had amasculine image from the predominant presence of men, the packaging inschool materials, to classroom interactions that favored the male students,thereby systematically perpetuating the myth that science is a masculineactivity.Another explanation has recently emerged that challenges the socialconstruction of science as inherently disassociating the female. The roots ofscientific inquiry were alleged to be developed in order to control and dominatenature's mysteries, including the mysteries of women's procreation capability,with the earliest advocates professing the purity of scientific activity as rational,analytical, objective, and unaffected by emotion. These characteristics havesince become identified as masculine with the complementary characteristics ofirrational, intuitive, subjective, and emotional regarded as feminine andconsequently as less valued. Many feminists believe that the problem ofwomen in science is far greater than simply a problem of numbers. Prominentfeminists have studied women scientists, past and present, and have found adifference in style, or perspective, in women's approach to the scientific43process. Women scientists have demonstrated differences in observationstrategies, methods of data gathering, and ways of interpreting data that showan acknowledgement of interdependence or connectedness between science,living things, and society. It is suggested that a validation of style orperspective would contribute to the growth of scientific knowledge by theexploration of the world in a more realistic and constructive way.44Chapter ThreeFactors to Consider in Designing Intervention StrategiesKnowledge is not understanding. Change does not occur in a vacuum.Life is lived in constant interaction, and often conflict, with the convictions ofyesterday, the ideals of the present, and the visions of tomorrow. Theinstitution of public school functions amidst the power of such forces. The roleof the educational system is to help ensure that all children are encouraged toreach their potential. Though there can be no single, simple solution to thecomplex problem of the participation of girls in science, specific considerationshave been explored and programs attempted to address the issue. We maylearn more about the value of intervention by exploring the factors that mayhave significance in the design of intervention strategies.The Role of ParentsBy the sheer number of years spent with children, parents can positivelyinfluence their children's interest in and interaction with scientific elements ofthe physical world by providing stimulating experiences almost from birth.Kahle (1985) discusses parental attitudes as affecting girls' choices of scienceclasses, confidence in their science ability, and perception of science asmasculine. Parental knowledge of careers information and the perscribed high45school prerequisites may help and encourage females to broaden their careerpossibilities.Various programs have included parents in their intervention designs. Amajor aim has been to heighten awareness of the many career options in thescientific and technological fields that have opened up in the last decade and toencourage the participation of women in them.The Role of TeachersWhyte (1985) informs us of the crucial and paradoxical role the teacherplays in the evolution of change by stating that "teachers are both a majorobstacle to change and yet the means by which change might be achieved" (p.75). Teachers play a significant part in the construction and delivery ofmeaning in their classrooms. Much of what occurs in any classroom isdetermined by the teacher's values and beliefs. Are teachers aware of the partthey play in the development of patterned responses in their students?Reflecting on my own years of teaching and countless discussions withcolleagues, I have observed that many teachers are not fully cognizant of theimpact their values and beliefs may have on students. It seems crucial that asignificant intervention would be teacher in-service programs that provideencouragement and skills for teachers to research their own schools andclassrooms as to possible reasons for girls' underachievement in, and less46positive attitudes toward, the sciences.If gender equity in the classroom can be achieved, at least partly,through the values and beliefs of teachers, then it is important to examineteachers' understanding of gender equity (Clark & Petersen, 1986) through theprovision of teacher education programs that encourage and support teachersto explore their own beliefs and potential impact on student attitudes, decisions,and career aspirations. These teacher education programs, however, may beresisted by teachers who, in their classroom isolation, feel defensive aboutchallenges to their teaching practices. Beliefs and values generate practicesthat are not readily altered by mere suggestion or accusation. Teachers requirea base of information which gives them a context in which to examine society'sgender socialization practices and their own beliefs and practices.A tremendous amount of literature, media coverage, and workshopbased meetings and programs for teachers are striving to promote aconsciousness of personal biases and an understanding of the gendersocialization that appears to promote gender inequity. Though many institutionshave responded by implementing a variety of measures aimed at promotingequity, without a commitment from individual teachers and school staffs to workas a team, any implementation of policies would be near futile in changingexisting teaching beliefs and practices.As Crossman's (1987) study revealed, even teachers who believed they47were not biased in their treatment of girls and boys, and believed they weremaking special efforts to encourage girls, favored male students in theirbehaviors and interactions. It is difficult for teachers to monitor their ownstudent interactions while simultaneously teaching. One strategy aimed atpromoting equal opportunities in schools found that even teachers who werecommitted to equal opportunities were hesitant to alter classroom organizationand curriculum content in ways that might not be accepted by colleagues,students, and parents (Millman, 1989). It appears that for significant change tooccur, support networks and the assurance of collaborative efforts are crucial.Guidance CounsellingAnother area related to teachers is the function of career counselling insecondary schools. Erickson (1981) discusses the importance of schoolcounsellors in encouraging girls to take science and increasing studentawareness of science-related careers. Many of the teacher interventions aredirected at those teachers in school counsellor roles. Having a counsellorsimply tell girls they can be whatever they want is not enough when girls maybe up against rigid stereotypes amongst peers, family and society in general.Jane Roland Martin (1981) discusses the raising of consciousness of ourfemale students so that they know what has been happening to women inscience and may well be happening to them. Guidance programs have48tremendous potential in expanding the knowledge base that career decisionsare made from. Enlightening students about women's social and economicroles and the persistent struggle for women's rights may have tremendousimpact on female aspirations and confidence at a time when career choices arebeing seriously explored.Course OptionsOne guidance manoeuvre to defer student choice of subjects has shownsome success. Delaying the freedom to opt out of the sciences may preventgirls from being disadvantaged later on when career decisions are more clearlyformulated. The lack of science and technological courses may interfere withprerequisites needed for career opportunities at a later date (Berryman, 1983;Burchell & Millman, 1989; Harding, 1983). Kelly (1987b) reports one schooldistrict that adopted a common curriculum to age 16 and the increased femaleparticipation in physics option courses rose from 10% to 40% following thecompulsory curriculum. Many of the girls had reported that they would havedropped physics the year before had it been an option. The province ofAlberta is preparing to implement a required Science course for all grade tenstudents which will delay student selection of the specific sciences by one year.Under the new program, every student will receive instruction in chemistry,biology, and physics. It is expected that a more informed choice will then be49made upon completion of grade ten. This may help tremendously in dispellingthe perception that physics, in particular, is too difficult to pursue.OutreachIn many instances, support from post-secondary institutions has helpeddispel the images and cultural bias prevalent in traditional careers. YorkUniversity in Toronto invites a group of female students from grades seven andten to participate in an apprenticeship where the girls spend a summer monthimmersed in laboratory and self-development workshops. The University ofAlberta, in Edmonton, currently runs a summer research program for grade 11students. The girls spend time with research teams in the faculties of Scienceand Engineering. An additional component of this particular program is theopportunity for grade 11 boys to have comparable experiences in the facultiesof Nursing and Home Economics. Interventions that involve outreach fromagencies outside of the school speak to the relationship between high schooland the adult society that its students come to participate in. It seemsespecially significant that the gender problem today is not just a societal onebut an institutional problem too. It seems reasonable that as more people andgroups work together to address gender equity, at all levels, the more effectivethey will be.50Single-sex ClassesA number of experiments have been carried out in which single-sexclasses have been created for female students in subject areas that have beenmasculine-typed (Carpenter & Hayden, 1987; Hamilton, 1985; Harvey &Stables, 1986; Kelly, 1987c; Whyte, 1986). The rationale for these classeshas been the belief that female students may be inhibited as learners of atraditional male subject. Without boys in the class, girls become less reluctantto become more fully involved in class participation. An all-girls class can alsoprovide a support system among the female students that may help to dispelthe suspicion that females are inferior in the maths and sciences. Lockheedand Klein (1985) claim that there is evidence that short-term single-sexinstruction may have positive effects though they do caution that long-termintervention may well serve to perpetuate sex stereotypes.A slight alteration of the single-sex classroom concept is being used totarget the female population in a northeastern Mississippi high school. Afemale physics teacher introduced a program of all-girl science field trips withpositive results. The teacher reported increased interest and participation fromthe girls without the physical and verbal presence of the boys (CBC Radio1992a). Having a female physics teacher, obviously committed to generatingfemale interest, most likely influences the students' participation as well.51Role ModelsA number of studies have recommended female role models in thescientific and technological professions. Stage, Kreinberg, Eccles and Becker(1985) conclude that role models of women in math and science fields areextremely motivational for students. Erickson (1981) discusses a mediaprogram produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on women inengineering, but notes that the lack of personal interaction which would addressparticular student concerns and questions is a problem.On the other hand, Fischer (1981) suggests that role models may not beas significant as some people think. Fischer studied 163 female engineeringstudents at an Ontario university and found that only two had ever met a femaleengineer, though she notes that more than half of the girls had a female relativeor family friend who was successfully working in a traditionally masculine field.Louise Lafortune (1990), a successful Canadian mathematician and professor,stresses the importance of female role models while presenting the bias sheencountered during her career advancement. In a radio interview (CBC Radio,1992b) chemical engineering student, Alaina Madanski, was perplexed at theneed for a Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering. She claims shehas never experienced sexual discrimination of any kind in her chosen field. Inthe course of the interview, however, it was revealed that she had been raisedin the U.S.S.R. where it is not unusual for women to pursue engineering as a52career choice. Madanski suggested that upon her arrival in Canada, she mayhave been oblivious to the problems associated with women and engineering inNorth America because of her early exposure to engineering as a normal andacceptable profession for a woman.With few women working in the sciences, it is difficult for them to reachout to a large number of students, to serve as role models. It would bebeneficial if employers supported the need for outreach to young womenthrough presentations to aspiring professionals. Appropriate models can alsobe effectively presented in the media and literature.A Pilot ProgramOf course, this is not to say that one school cannot make any difference,but only that with a concentrated effort to alter women's position in general, aschool is one of many significant players. One school that attempted toaddress low science enrolment figures with specific plans is reviewed here.Mary Doherty (1987), a Science Head at a girls school in Croydon, Surrey, washired with a specific mandate to increase student interest in the physicalsciences. Reflecting on her years as an educator, and examining the researchliterature, she concluded that there were two problems to overcome: the lack ofconfidence girls demonstrated in their science ability, and their perception ofscience as a masculine activity. She describes the school's efforts through a53cohort of students through three years which will be briefly discussed here.The department's initial goal was to emphasize the relevance and social natureof science to the girls in the school year prior to the year when the sciencesbecome option courses. This began with the implementation and use ofmaterials that would capitalize on student interest and experience. An exampleon the concept of waves, was having the students explore waves using musicalinstruments, the toy slinky, and hospital x-rays. The equipment used on thetopic of electricity and electronics was the wiring of a doll's house andspecifically, the mechanism of the front and back door bell. Doherty tells of theobvious pleasure and involvement of first year students. As part of this firstyear experience, the girls contemplated and discussed statistics of women'semployment, women's role in society, and the pay scales of men and women.The emotion Doherty describes their response as is anger.Other specific project actions consisted of presenting to parents theimportance of the sciences in widening career opportunities, inviting male andfemale scientists and engineers to the school, careers advice and peer-counselling with older students who were taking physics and chemistry asoptions. It should be noted that Doherty's vision was not to ensure all studentselected option science courses the next year, but rather to ensure that theirchoice to take science or not was an informed one.Prior to the second year Doherty spent time with the Maths Head54developing a liaison between the two curricula to ensure synchronization oftopics and compatible terminology where possible. The staff was informed ofthe reasons and were asked for their support. During the second year, projectactions continued with visiting scientists and engineers with the addition offemale engineering students, and individual counselling to pin-point individualdifficulties. Two additional components were the offering of after schooltutorials for students needing additional help or reassurance and theimplementation of peer tutoring with older students.In the last year, the students became the tutors for the younger girls andwere involved with designing presentations with practical displays for incomingstudents. Project actions continued with the addition of "taster weeks" at anengineering institute and more responsibility for the lab equipment.The school achieved success as is evident in option physics andchemistry course enrolment figures with Physics enrolment in 1983 going from5% of the student population to 50% just three years later. Chemistry figuresincreased from 13% prior to the intervention to 55% three years later. At thebeginning of the new program, 30% of the students were not taking any optionscience courses and that number totally disappeared by year three of theproject. Doherty goes on to explain the generation of interest as being theeasy part. Though some of the girls began to consider careers in the sciences,their confidence level remained extrinsically tied to teacher encouragement. Did55they need further encouragement or was it physics itself that simplydisinterested them?The Image of ScienceMost of the interventions designed to date have operated on the need tochange the image of science to one more balanced between the sexes in orderto address the discrepancy in participation rates. The attempt to make sciencemore girl-friendly has increased participation rates in high school option sciencecourses and has increased girls' confidence in their intellectual abilities.Though these interventions are definitely forging in the right direction, theyseem to imply an acceptance of scientific method and style at face value.A Final ConsiderationInterventions that serve to challenge and change the very nature ofscientific inquiry are not as easily designed. However, it is widely believed thatin order for real change to occur, in anything, it must come from within anorganism not from without. Women need to be players in scientific activity.They will need the skills and knowledge to partake, earn some credibility, andthen encourage more diverse perspectives, and a feminist one in particular(Rosser, 1986). The concern of and desire to alter the nature of scienceinquiry, has a much wider ramification than simply promoting increased female56participation. A redefined science is believed to benefit all life.ConclusionA number of interventions have and are being explored as a way ofaddressing the discrepancy of numbers of male and female scientists with theeducational system as a focal point. The research presents a myriad of studiesconcluding that schools, as products of society, have perpetuated the male andfemale stereotypes thereby contributing to traditional career aspirations.Teachers, in particular, have been shown to favor male students. Increasingteacher awareness of possible bias in classroom activity has been the intent ofmany educators. Many schools have since participated in collaborative effortswith outside agencies to further encourage female students. Other schooldistricts have delayed science course options to dispel the beliefs of sciencebeing very difficult.The extent of teacher bias has led some researchers to examinepossible advantages of single-sex schooling for girls in dispelling the maleimage of science. The assumption that without the physical and verbalpresence of male students, female students would be more inclined to developthe skills and confidence needed for scientific inquiry. The many variablesoperative, in single-sex schools, however, have confounded the studies. Thesingle-sex environment within the coeducation school is based on the premise57that there is an advantage to single-sex schooling. This is being explored byspecific science classes and activities within the schools and summerworkshops, to encourage increased female participation.Some researchers have suggested that role models are highlymotivational in encouraging young women to consider a career in science.Many schools have attempted to present role models by hiring female scienceteachers or having classroom visitations by women in the scientific andtechnological professions.The reforms necessary to encourage girls in science are components ofthe larger reforms intent on changing women's position in society. Alteringcenturies of tradition does not occur without resistance on all fronts. The issueof girls and science will likely continue to generate research endeavors untilequality of opportunity progresses to equality of outcomes, when women andmen participate equally and freely in not only scientific professions, but in life.58Chapter FourMethodologyThe Research QuestionThe question guiding the purpose of the study was: What sense havethe students made of the school's intervention strategy?The Design of the StudyThis research study is an examination of student perceptions aboutsingle-sex instruction in a coeducational high school. The methodology is bothquantitative and qualitative in that it employs a questionnaire and interviews.The task of understanding the sense students make of any particular part oftheir school life can be difficult since one must attempt to enter into thepsychological world of the student. Interviews can be most useful in therecovery of meaning, as Hargreaves (1971) has noted "when a person speaksthe richest sources of potential information become available" (p. 21). Theprincipal and teacher, both male, were interviewed to obtain backgroundinformation.The SchoolThe city high school, where the survey took place, is situated in the59vicinity of the city's university and is considered an upper-middle-classcommunity. The school has a strong reputation as being an academic school.It is one of only three city schools to offer high school French immersion whichresults in students being bussed in from a large area of the city.In 1989 the school's Science Department Head considered the idea ofexperimenting with an all-girls physics class as a way to increase the femaleenrolment figures and decrease the female attrition rates in high school physics.She presented her case to the principal and the program began to take shape.The school sought, but was unable to recruit, a female physics teacher. A maleteacher was approached and accepted the position enthusiastically. Theteacher, as he describes himself, is one to try anything with possibilities. Hehas a passionate and infectious interest in physics and had a very successfulteaching track record demonstrating an interest in innovative ideas and projects.The All-Girls ClassThe first physics class of all girls was in the fall of 1989. In the fall of1990, a local newspaper article was published which portrayed the interventionas a positive experience that the students were enjoying, as quoted commentsfrom the girls indicated. A short feature was also published in Woman's Day magazine. In the fall of 1991, after hearing a national radio coverage of thegrade 11 class, the researcher enquired as to the possibility of a study. At the60time, the teacher was instructing an all-girls Physics 10/20 class of grade tenand eleven students. The brief radio interview had focused on these particularstudents' comments which were positive ones referring to the aspects of arelaxed atmosphere and the lack of intimidation by male students.By the time the actual study took place, in March 1992, a new semesterhad begun and the class was Physics 30 with grade 12 students. Only onestudent in this new class had been in the fall Physics 10/20 class. All but twoof the students were expecting to graduate in June.The StudentsThe 20 students were all in grade 12 and most were 17 years old thoughthe range was from 17 to 19 years of age. The students were veryacademically inclined with almost all of them having taken all 3 sciences,Biology, Chemistry and Physics.A short presentation was made to the whole class by the researcher asto the nature of the study and the use of the data. Consent letters were senthome which requested parent and student signatures for approval. As well asbeing informed as to the specific acts required of them, the students knew thatthey would be given pseudonyms and could withdraw from the study at anytime.All the students chose to complete the questionnaire, but three were not61interviewed (one was ill on the last day when her interview was scheduled; theother two did not make an appointment). This study was the first time that theywere asked how they felt and what they thought about the special program theywere involved in.Questionnaires were also mailed out to the previous year's grade 12students who had participated in the program and had since graduated.The QuestionnaireAll the students returned the signed consent forms and the questionnairewas filled out during class time. The questionnaire consisted of 16 closedquestions and 14 open questions (see Appendix A). A question arose from oneof the students whether or not they could select more than one answer. Assome questions may have needed more than one answer (i.e., "What otherSciences are you taking?"), I answered yes. Although there were items that Ihad specifically wanted one answer selected (i.e., "When you do very well onan assignment or test, what do you usually attribute it to?"), it was my error tonot clearly define them as such on the questionnaire. Also, as I was expectingthe first-level physics class (the semester had ended and a new one begun) thesemantics of some of the items were not correct although the items were easilyunderstood and transposed by the students (i.e., "Why are you taking Physics10/20?"). The questionnaires mailed out to the previous year's students were62essentially identical outside of verb tense and a written postscript that invitedadditional comments. The school office accepted the prepared envelopes andmailed them out, thereby ensuring anonymity.The InterviewsThe students in the study were requested to participate in one interview.They selected an interview time block of 30 minutes during their spare periodsor lunch hours. The interviews were intended to allow the students to discussand to clarify their understanding of the school's program. While the interviewswere structured in that questions had been prepared in advance (see AppendixB), there seemed an openness and flexibility in the interviews that allowed thestudents to voice their perceptions with ease. Seventeen interviews were tapedand transcripts were made. One interview was not recorded due to recordingdifficulties.ObservationsThe observation of six classes was included because of the researcher'sdesire to encourage a sense of familiarity with the students prior to theinterviews, and to informally observe the class. As a result, formal observationnotes were not recorded but general impressions of the class were noted aftereach class.63The Interpretive ProcessThe transcripts and questionnaires provided specific pieces of informationabout the sense the students made of single-sex instruction. To make meaningof the information, a researcher needs to categorize, analyze, and interpret thedata. Erickson (1986) has outlined a process. To start, all the data is reviewedto generate through induction what has been called descriptive statements.The data is then reviewed repeatedly to test the validity of the assertions.Themes and patterns are looked for so that more general assertions andhypotheses can be extracted until the researcher is relatively satisfied that validmeanings have been uncovered.Essentially, this time consuming endeavour was the process I followed inderiving sense from the data. Part of the difficulty experienced wasundoubtedly due to my relative unfamiliarity with the researcher role and theunavailability of a pilot group to field test. A process requiring an intensivesearch for deep connections and meanings is a complex task. Intentionally ornot, a researcher comes to a project with perceptions, assumptions andpurposes already formulated to some degree which are likely to complicate theinterpretive process. Separating the researcher from the researched wouldseem near impossible. Researchers have recognized this and haveacknowledged the centrality of the researchers and their values and purposesin research projects (Clark & Peterson, 1986).64The data gathering was completed in two weeks. Due to the distancebetween the research site and the researcher base, I did not share with theparticipants the descriptions and generalizations that I had worked out. Thestudents, teacher, and principal did not receive a copy of the interviewtranscripts to give them an opportunity to clarify their intended perceptions andhence, the interpretive stage was done on my own making me totallyresponsible for the interpretations and implications of the data. Close readingand repeated rereading of the questionnaires and transcripts eventually came toserve to develop an understanding.65Chapter FiveThe ResultsThe analysis of the student responses to the questionnaire (Appendix A)and the interview questions (Appendix B) are presented to describe how thestudents' perceive the intervention of a single-sex physics class and itsimplications. The results reveal two conflicting themes of student resistanceand acceptance of the program. These two themes will be examined within thecontext of three areas: the school program, the subject of physics, and genderissues specifically. Lastly, a brief summary of the previous studentquestionnaire analysis will be presented.Profile of the GirlsAs previously mentioned, the majority of the 20 students were 17 yearsold. Most of them were expected to graduate from high school in three monthswith a high percentage of them armed with all three academic sciences. Eightypercent had taken Biology 30 and 90% had taken Chemistry 30. Of the 16 girlsinterviewed, eight had taken the first level prerequisite in the single-sex class,seven in a mixed class and one student did half in the all-girls and the otherhalf in the mixed. The students appeared to be highly motivated students withall of them planning post-secondary education at the university level.66A questionnaire item revealed more definite ideas about ideal andexpected occupations. Eight of the girls had definite ideas as to their futurecareers with no discrepancy reported between their ideal and expectedoccupation. Of this eight, three plan to enter traditional male professions oflaw, engineering, and pharmacy. Six other students cited traditional maleprofessions as the ideal career with only two of the six responding to expectedoccupation and interestingly, they selected traditional female occupations ofveterinary assistant and nurse. The remaining four students were uncertain asto the expected occupation. Two students listed many possibilities under ideal,but responded with "none of the above" for expected occupation. Another twostudents responded with comments describing their uncertainty of either ideal orexpected occupation. One student had visions of becoming an actor with theexpectation of practising law and another student's response was too vague todefine. One might summarize their ideal occupational leanings as favoringtraditional male careers while the expected occupational leanings, outside ofuncertainty, as favoring traditional female careers.From the interview data, nine of the students were taking Physics 30 inorder to keep their options open for later consideration of career choice. Sixstudents were taking it as a definite prerequisite to post-secondary studies andonly one was taking it without future need for it. From the high percentage ofgirls opting for all three sciences, it is evident that these students were not67prepared to be in a disadvantaged academic position after graduation especiallywith more than half of them indicating uncertainty as to expected career.In an effort to uncover where this view to the future originated, aquestionnaire item asked if there was someone who had encouraged them topursue the sciences as a possible career avenue. Out of the 15 students whoreplied yes, 11 responded with parents and 7 cited teachers as those who hadencouraged them specifically. Nine students listed friends and 3 referred toguidance counsellors. Parents played a significant role in the careerconsiderations of this particular group of students. Though initial interpretationmay draw negative impressions of the school counselling services, it is notedthat counsellors may well have reiterated parental guidance and were,therefore, not viewed as a particularly influential force. Two of the 3 studentswho cited guidance counsellors, however, also listed their parents. No doubt,encouragement by adults has played a role in the career decisions of thesestudents.In the interviews, some of the girls referred to the guidance they hadreceived as a negative experience. One student reported that the guidanceoffice turns students away from physics unless they have very strong mathmarks while another quoted guidance personnel as raising students' self-doubtby asking, "Are you sure you want to take that?" After grade 10 math markswere reported, another student was asked if she would like to reconsider her68decision to continue with the next level of physics. Others were familiar withnegative experiences of friends and acquaintances. One of the students hadrecently written a letter to the guidance office with respect to her observationsthat the guidance personnel did not demonstrate concern for students. At thetime of the interview, two weeks had passed without a response which servedto confirm for the student a lack of caring. These comments from the studentsshow that the attitudes of guidance personnel have an impact and can reinforcea student's doubts about her ability.Enrolment in PhysicsThe girls entered into the program without understanding its objectives.This appears rather odd as it was the principal's assertion that one of theprogram's goals was to encourage female enrolment. It is noted, however, thatencouragement is more than a one-shot endeavor. Considering the program'ssecond goal of decreasing the female drop-out rate in physics, the single-sexclass may have served to encourage the high achievers to continue on to theadvanced course.Formal school statistics were not available to verify a decrease in drop-out rates. School statistics were also not available for enrolment figures,though I was given teacher record books for the last seven years to do amanual count. Fortunately, previous teachers were still on staff to aid the sex69identification of those names that did not clearly indicate such. The followingchart illustrates female and male enrolment in the school's physics classes from1985-1992:Table 2High School Physics Enrolment for Girls and Boys, 1985-1992 Year Girls (%) Boys (%) Total Students1985-86 44 (32.6) 91 (67.4) 1351986-87 33 (29.2) 80 (70.8) 1131987-88 77 (32.8) 158 (67.2) 2351988-89 74 (37.2) 125 (62.8) 1991989-90* 90 (37.8) 148 (62.2) 2381990-91* 112 (44.3) 141 (55.7) 2531991-92* 98 (45.4) 118 (54.6) 216Note.* Years of single-sex instruction program included among co-ed classes.70Female enrolment has certainly increased over the years though agradual rise is evident prior to the school's intervention program. With thegeneral rise in the number of women entering non-traditional fields over the lastdecade, it is not conclusive that the enrolment increase is due to theintervention alone. Considering that all but one of the students in the study haddesigned a program that included physics, regardless of the make-up of theclass, the program's role in the enrolment increase is difficult to conclude.Interest in physics is, on the rise, leaving the question of whether single-sexclasses provide better support for this aspect of girls' educational choices.Upon first hearing of the special , class, prior to the formal teacherpresentation on the first day of classes, half of the girls were appalled at theidea describing their responses as, "I hope I don't get in; was not going to befun; silly to do; weird idea; stupid; dumb; didn't appeal of me; no point to it."The other half were divided equally between thinking it a good idea andambivalence. The positive expectations included not feeling intimidated by boysto ask questions; feeling more comfortable; and, an interesting way to learn.Once in the course, however, the number of students who viewed the classpositively increased to 11 from the original 4. Only 1 student held the sameambivalent view while 2 students who had seen the class as initially promisinglater saw it as an intimidating experience due to the above average ability ofthe class. It seems that prior to the experience, the idea of a single-sex class71appeared abnormal in light of their many years in a coeducational environment.Once involved in the course, however, the idea did not seem so preposterous.Two of the 20 students had chosen specifically the single-sex Physics 30class and 2 students would have transferred in had it not been designated ontheir schedules. One student, coming from another school, transferred in fromthe mixed physics class after hearing about it. The 2 students who would havetransferred in had both taken the prerequisite physics in a mixed class andreferred to the boys in that first class as "immature and dominating." With only3 students of the current class choosing the single-sex course, it would appearthat most of the students did not find the special program intended for them asparticularly attractive. However, the girls had heard from previous years thatthey would not be allowed a choice anyway which could account for them notspecifically requesting it.From the interviews, it was learned that many of the girls had theimpression they were blocked into the class and could not get out withoutdisrupting their entire year of study. Three of the girls had approached theguidance office to rearrange their schedules and were told that they wereblocked into the physics class and could not get out except by dropping thecourse. One of the girls, feeling ambivalent about the all-girls class, hadwanted to rearrange the academic load on her schedule and was informed shecould not get out of the physics class. It is expected that the school would72lose the experiment if the students were given the option of transferring out thiswas probable, particularly at the start of the program, given that half of thestudents did not anticipate a positive experience. However, one of the threestudents, at the time of the study, had finally secured guidance approval totransfer to the mixed class and had only to obtain the present teacher'spermission. She was reluctant to discuss the matter with him because she didnot want to offend him personally. Her major concern was the pace at whichthe course content was being covered as the mixed class was two units ahead.This student was very outspoken and articulate and it was evident to me shewould not settle for an answer that did not serve her academic needs.At a time in their lives when a sense of control is increasing, not havinga choice of this particular class may serve to undermine the students'independence, though the choice does remain whether or not to take physicsitself. At the same time, it seems important that the school act in the students'best interests, yet, it would be impractical to have three or four students in asingle-sex class. The principal viewed the situation simply as, "The girls rearup and complain but at the end of the program they say, I'm really glad; I'vereally done well." Given the increase in a positive perception of the programinitially, the school administration appears to have learned to weather the initialobjections in anticipation of more favorable attitudes at a later date. If theschool is anticipating a "storm" then perhaps a consideration of presenting the73reason for the intervention would alleviate initial discomfort of the students andanticipation of conflict of the administration.The CurriculumThe majority of the girls, in fact, had serious complaints about the lack ofstructure and subsequent slow pace of course instruction. Their concern wasthe looming diploma exam that all Physics 30 students in the province write atthe end of the term. When asked if they had brought their concerns to theteacher's attention they felt that he knew about them through their casualcomments in class but they had not spoken directly to him as a group. Theconcern of not meeting curriculum requirements to allow sufficient knowledgeand confidence on the provincial exam may also be related to a sense ofsecond class treatment as many of the students were aware that thepredominant male Physics 30 class was two units ahead of them.Concerns about the diploma exam and the advancement of the otherclass aside, almost all of the students found that the lack of constant attentionto the provincial curriculum boundaries allowed the class to delve into theapplications of physics. This was enhanced by the teacher's enthusiasm andpassion for the subject. Almost all the students commented on the teacher'svast knowledge of physics and their admiration for him was clearly evident.The teacher's love of physics was evident from the fact that he had built his74own environmentally efficient house and his own airplane. As one of thestudents put it, "He knows everything about physics." Compared to the earliernuances of second class treatment, this was reassuring.The concern about content coverage came up again when the studentswere asked what they thought the males thought of the all-girls class. Most ofthe students did not know exactly, but had suspicions due to casual commentsmade by their male friends and peers. A recurring comment was that the boysprobably believed the all-girls class was offered because the girls needed extrahelp and attention because they could not keep up with them. One of thestudents emphatically expressed that she did not want that message to begiven out. This research was not intended to analyze specific teaching stylesor preferences, but the evident student apprehension about completing corecurriculum may have ramifications on the perceptions of the entire study bodythat may contribute to the notion that girls mare inferior academically.Class ParticipationHalf of the students reported increased participation as compared toother classes, but this may be due to the teacher's knowledge and enthusiasm.The teacher's resistance to the more formal classroom structure encouragedthe girls to ask questions and speak out without adhering to the usualexpectation of putting up one's hand and waiting to be acknowledged. The75students' total freedom from hesitation to speak for fear of reprimand waspredominant. The teacher also made references to the girls helping oneanother out during instruction which he reported did not happen with the boys.As he put it, "Once the boys have got something to hang onto, they feelpowerful with, they'll keep it. The girls will share right away." For a number ofpossible reasons, the all-girls class appeared to establish an environment ofease and comfort. One student stated that she did talk more in this class but itwas not always subject related. Four of the 16 students viewed theirparticipation as no different in this class than other classes and said that whenthey have a question, they simply ask it no matter which class it is. Onestudent thought her participation might be a little more in the single-sex class.The only student who purposely avoided asking questions in this class,compared to her other classes, cited the reason as not wanting to encouragefurther diversion from the topic at hand.Although only the comments of a few students, it still seems worth notingthat the students who had taken first level physics in the predominant maleclass indicated that their previous preference was to ask questions after class.One student reported that she had not spoken aloud in the mixed classthroughout the entire term. This student wished she had been able to take thefirst level all-girls physics course so as to not have been afraid andembarrassed to ask questions in class. She reported being particularly at ease76in this second level physics class and stated that even if she believes herquestion to be a stupid one, she knows it will be received well by everyone.Another student elaborated that the boys were often frustrated with the girls'questions. She commented that girls in this class are more "forgiving" aboutquestions that seem inappropriate or redundant and do not respond negatively.Though most of the students in the mixed first level physics class reported littledifference with respect to comfort in asking questions, it seems evident that thesingle-sex environment of the present physics class served to encouragegreater interaction for some students.The Intimidation FactorFeeling intimidated by boys was not personally experienced by most ofthe girls. Half of those interviewed believed they were not intimidated by theirmale peers in any way. Of the five students who had experienced or witnessedintimidating behaviour by their male peers, all of them reported increasedparticipation in the present class. One student recalled a time when a femaleclassmate was asking a question and a male student, under his breath but loudenough for many to hear, chanted, "L0000ser, l0000ser." It is not surprisingthat this was the student who had not spoken once in the first physics classwhere this incident was witnessed. From the students' and teacher'sexperience, it seemed a common occurrence for males to put-down anyone,77not females specifically. The teacher commented extensively on this particularbehaviour during our interview and lumped it under the phrase "false bravado."It appears evident and reasonable that some people are reluctant to voicequestions or comments in the face of possible negative response from others.When asked the open-ended questionnaire item as to why they thoughta school would offer all-girls physics instruction, half of the students respondedusing the word "intimidation" by boys with others referring to the discomfortlevel in a class with boys. Eight of the students made comments possiblyrelated to the male intimidation factor using words to describe the all-girls classas "comfortable, friendly, conducive to learning, and non-threatening." I foundthe repetition of the word intimidation particularly intriguing as the word did notcome up in the interview and discussions with the principal and the physicsteacher. In the interview, however, the classroom teacher frequently referred tothe male high school student's intimidating behaviour as "the nature of thebeast," with an apparent total acceptance of it being quite natural. The use ofthis specific phrase was also noted in the teacher's informal classroom dialoguewith the students more than once.Looking more closely at the intimidation by boys factor as one of theschool's possible reasons for having a single-sex class, two different responsesemerged. One response reflected the girls' own beliefs that girls are intimatedby boys, and the other reflected the view that the school perceives girls' feeling78of being intimidated by boys. To illustrate this more clearly, the followingwritten comments are presented in Table 3. The questionnaire item was, "Whatdo you think are the reasons for your school to offer physics instruction in anall-girls class?"Table 3Girls' (n=12) Comments on Intimidation by Boys (Response #21) 79Girls (11.6) who expressed a belief that girls are intimidated by boys:Because girls in a mostly guys class are shy to get into the subject andask questions.So the girls feel they can have the same chance in the class as themales and won't feel over dominated by them... or intimidated whenasking questions.Many girls are intimidated and feel stupid among boys.Maybe because some people feel intimidated by boys.So that the girls who are intimidated by boys are not scared of taking thecourse.To provide some girls who do not feel comfortable taking physics withboys.Girls (a=6) who expressed a belief that the school believes girls are intimidatedby boys:They believe that girls are intimidated by boys.Our school thinks that we are intimidated by guys.They probably feel that girls do better...because they are not asintimidated or embarrassed to ask questions.They find that boys intimidate girls.They think girls don't do as well or are intimidated when they are in thesame classes with boys.Their reasons are girls are incapable of thinking when there are highlevels of testosterone in the room and girls are intimidated by boys.80It seems reasonable to assume that with 50% of the students focusingon this one reason, they have been told intimidation by boys was a significantfactor in the decision to segregate them, and many of them appear to accept it,if not for themselves, then, on behalf of others.Four of the girls interviewed raised the issue that intimidation by boyshas likely increased in the present mixed physics class which waspredominantly male due to the lower enrolment of girls caused by having theall-female class. It seems possible that the intimidation by males factor couldbe heightened given there are only 2 females and 21 males. Upon registration,2 female students were enroled in the mixed class and the 4 students justnoted viewed the situation as unfair to the 2 female students. Their positionwas that if the school was going to have an all-girls physics class, then all thegirls should be in it. I was able to observe one of the mixed class sessions andwas informed that 1 of the 2 female students had just dropped the course.During the 40 minute observation, the lone female student spoke once and onlyin response to a student in front of her turning around to initiate a briefdialogue.In the six informal observations of the all-girls class, however, there weresessions where two of the students did not speak to anyone though one of thetwo reported increased participation compared to other classes. The secondstudent did not show up for her scheduled interview time on the last day so her81comments on participation were not obtained. If elimination of intimidation byboys is a concern of the school, then it seems that for those few girls in themixed physics classes, the possibility of it is certainly increased. It is interestingto note that without the segregation of the sexes, the physics classes would bevery close to being balanced in enrolment by gender, which would likelydecrease the possibility of an intimidation factor.Two of the students referred to intimidation by others from a differentperspective. With an anxious laugh, they admitted to feeling more intimidatedby the other girls in the class who they described as all highly academicorientated -- "brains." These two students believed they were average to aboveaverage students in their other academic studies, but below average in thisclass. An elaboration revealed their awareness that in a mixed class the rangein ability and interest was far greater and thus less intimidating for them as theywould not be at the bottom of the academic scale. One of the two studentscommented that confidence in her ability had decreased as a result. The otherstated that in a mixed class the boys fool around so much that it makes thegirls look like better students. Interestingly, these two students reported verynegative comments about the teacher and his teaching style implying afavoritism given to the higher achievers. During instruction, I observed thatthese students engaged in frequent dialogue with each other and were ofteninterrupted by teacher references to his need for their attention. Possibly, their82ill feelings about marks were easier to deal with in a battle of wills with theinstructor rather than a complete acceptance of personal responsibility for theirachievement which was lower than their other classes.One other student reflected on the possibility that male students mightactually be intimidated by smart female students and thereby intimated that theintervention might be as much for the boys as for the girls. Considering theprincipal's comments that the worse thing a girl could do is "show a fellow up"in physics (though to do so in Math was okay) and seeing it as the "equivalentto being on the boy's football team and being the all-star runningback," it ispossible that the single-sex program was regarded as being equally beneficialto the boys and the girls.Girls' Perception of PhysicsOn the questionnaire, the students were asked their previous expectationand subsequent reality of the subject of physics on a five point scale from veryhard to very easy. The expectation of very hard or hard was selected by 60%of the students with this dropping to 25% of the students' present experience.The expectation of neither easy nor hard was chosen by 35% of the studentswhich increased to 55% once they were in the course for four weeks. Clearly,the perception of difficulty is operative in student minds prior to taking physics.Kelly (1987b) reports this perception of difficulty as one reason girls generally83avoid the sciences.Examining a related open-ended item that asked why girls tend to shyaway from physics courses, the word "intimidation" was mentioned only once.The perception of difficulty, however, was mentioned by 45% of the students. Alack of interest in the subject was the second response most reported. Table 4presents all of the responses.Table 4Why Girls Shy Away from Physics Response^ Number of ResponsesPerception of Difficulty^ 9Interest^ 6Unnecessary for Career Plans^3Math Factor^ 2Dull/Boring 2Applicability to Real Life^ 1Intimidation by Boys 1Male Image^ 1Don't Know 1Note.Students (a=20) were allowed to check off more than one response.84It is possible that there is a discrepancy between what the school perceives asthe problem and what the students perceive as the problem. The schoolappears to perceive intimidation by boys as more significant than actuallyreported by the girls.Learning StylesA recent report prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Education (Matas, 1992)suggests that girls and boys have different approaches to learning. Aconsistent finding based on mathematics performance, attitude, and enrolmentproposes that females demonstrate a greater interest in collaborativeapproaches to learning which tend to be in conflict with the usual method ofteaching mathematics. This was seen as likely operative within the sciences aswell. The present study appears to indicate girls favoring a more collaborativeapproach especially in the physics class. Two questionnaire items asked thestudents to select preferred classroom activities in Science classes generallyand Physics specifically. For both items, the students overwhelmingly choselaboratory and discussion which can be highly collaborative. Harding (1983)and Smail (1983) suggest that certain classroom activities, particularlylaboratories and discussion, are very appealing to girls.To further explore classroom preferences, the students interviewed wereasked specifically whether they preferred working alone or in small groups in85the single-sex class. The responses overwhelmingly favored small groupactivities. Reasons cited for the preference were: discussion among peers asstimulating more ideas and solutions, getting help with areas they were unsureof, and, simply more enjoyable. One student stated she preferred small groupwork in this particular class but not her other classes and cited the reason thatdealing with the content was easier in small groups. Another student chosesmall groups with the condition that marks were assigned on an individual basisas she did not appreciate the need to depend upon others for her marks. Onlytwo students preferred working alone and said that discussion in group workwasted valuable time and that too many ideas were confusing to one's ownunderstanding.The B.C. Status Report on School Mathematics suggests that,traditionally, learning outcomes have been goal- or product-oriented andurgently suggests as much emphasis be placed on a process-orientation. Twostudents brought up the idea of process- versus goal-orientation in response tothe question of whether girls and boys learn differently. One explained thatgirls need to see things "step-by-step, understanding the why," whereas boyssimply accept information as presented. As another student put it:I don't think guys are as involved with each other, you know. When theteacher writes something on the board, they write it down and theymemorize it and that's the end of it. They don't turn to their friend andsay, I don't get it. Whereas the girls will write it down and memorize it86but not necessarily understand it right away, so we'll talk about it andwhat not. But with guys, I think it's more like, here, this is the way it is,period. A lot of girls, I think, want to know why this is the way it is.When asked why she thought there is this difference, she continued:I don't know. It might be something in the way our... we think, or maybeprocess information, or just the way you've been brought up. Whoknows?As these students had just spent thirteen years in classrooms with maleand female participants, it seems reasonable that they would have an opinionbased on their classroom experiences and observations as to whether boys andgirls learn differently or not. Their responses are charted in Table 5.Table 5Do Girls and Boys Learn Differently? Response (n=16)^ Number of ResponsesDefinitely No Difference^ 7Probably No Difference 2Developmental/Maturity Difference^3Definitely A Difference^ 2Probably A Difference 2Total^ 1687The recurring comment with the response of "no difference" was that learningstyle was an individual characteristic regardless of gender. The hesitantresponses indicated that boys seemed to learn physics and chemistry withgreater ease and they wondered if it was a matter of interest or innateinclination. Interestingly, one student commented that there were differences inapproaches to studies and that boys might learn the way they think they aresupposed to. The idea is certainly inviting when increased participation isreported in the all-girls class.The physics teacher, on the other hand, thinks there are differences inthe way girls and boys learn. He reported that when he began teaching the all-girls class he realized some changes had to be made.I got some insights into the way that I had been teaching for a while andthinking that maybe it wasn't right. Granted I was teaching to themajority of the class, which was male, and I was teaching to their style oflearning.He explained that girls process information through a holistic lens andfind it difficult to extract a part for focus without understanding, or at leastseeing, its place within the whole context. As a result of this revelation, theteacher has adapted his teaching style by presenting the entire context first andonly then proceeding to draw the students' attention to a particular part foranalysis. This may not indicate a difference in learning style but rather possibly88an unwillingness to accept information without understanding which may beencouraged more in a more relaxed and cooperative environment. From myown perspective as a classroom teacher, working within a context is alwayspreferable to presenting isolated material and information when studentunderstanding and comprehension is desired.When the teacher was asked whether his teaching style had changed inthe co-ed classes he was also teaching, as a result of this new knowledge, hestated that chemistry does not have the same kinds of content problemsespecially the three dimensional imaging aspects of physics. When askedspecifically if he thought girls learned differently than boys biologically, heresponded at length.I think so. I think there are differences, and I think there are probablystructural differences too. The girls have abilities that the boys don'thave and vice versa. The boys are really good at focusing on one thingto the exclusion of all else, which means that when it's required that youhave to concentrate hard on one thing, the boys can do it easily withoutany coaxing, but they lose sight of everything else. It's like getting offtopic. Once the boy gets off topic, he rivets on that, you know, he fixeson it. That's a skeletal weakness at the same time, so it's hard to say.Where the girls, what I was telling you before with doing field drawings,where I have to draw something here, something here, and somethinghere, and say, "Okay, let's analyze the field location at this location."And when I first did that, the girls had a lot of trouble with it because Ididn't purposely exclude all the other stuff. I said, "I don't want you tolook here, here, or here, I just want you to look at this one spot." Andnow I do that and it's more helpful. But before I didn't, I taught it the wayI was teaching it to boys for the last decade and they [the girls] were,"What are you doing?" and that was really helpful for me because Irealized that unless you ask them to not look at the whole picture, they'llget the whole picture automatically whereas the boys will automatically89focus on the things that I point to and everything else is gone, it justdoesn't exist for them. And so your approach has to be very different.The teacher perceives a difference between the learning styles offemales and males, and has adjusted his teaching methods to reflect thisperception. It is interesting to note, however, that earlier in the lengthyinterview he spoke of male students as quick to claim understanding of aconcept during instruction time only to frequently appear after class askingquestions that demonstrate an actual lack of understanding. It seems that boysas well as girls would benefit from this adaptation of teaching style.Another difference in learning styles the teacher perceived is that girlshave the ability to multi-task, as he called it, or being able to attend to a varietyof activities simultaneously. This was illustrated by reference to femalestudents' ability to monitor classroom topics and pay close attention when theyneed to, or less attention, thus allowing them to converse with a neighbor orstare off at a distance, when they do not need the information discussed. Themales, on the other hand, were seen to be unable to bring their attention backwhen it was needed without teacher intervention. During the week ofobservations, the teacher referred favorably to this ability in class time with thestudents more than once. This may be an idea held by the teacher, based onhis experiences.90Academic StandingThe intervention of an all-girls class did not seem to enhance thestudents' academic standing. Fourteen of the 20 students reported that theirgrades in physics were average when compared to other subjects. Fivestudents reported that their physics grades were worse in comparison and 1described her grades in physics as slightly better. Another question whichfocused on interest in science, showed that 12 students reported they had notchanged their level of interest because of the class. Seven students did reportincreased interest in science because of the class. The reasons for theincreased interest could be the enthusiasm of the teacher, the positiveexperience in the class, or the possible influence of other teachers and adults.In combining the two items, Table 6 illustrates the relationship between physicsachievement and interest in science more clearly.Table 6Relationship between Physics Achievement and Interest in Science  (a.20)91Physics GradesRelative toOther SubjectsInterest in Science as a Resultof the InterventionIncrease Unchanged DecreaseGrades worse^3^1^1Grades average 11^0Grades better^ 1^0^0It is possible that the increase in interest in Science could well be related to themajority of students perceiving physics to be a difficult subject to learn prior totaking it. All of the girls in the class had already taken the prerequisite courseand the fact that they enroled in grade 12 physics indicates an interest already.Girls' Perceptions about the ClassOn the questionnaire, the students were asked what aspect of the single-sex class they enjoyed the most and the least. The responses fit into twocategories, atmosphere and course content. In just under half of the "most,"responses, they ranged from a relaxed atmosphere, socializing, and help fromothers, to not being afraid to speak up. The other comments were directed at92the enjoyment of real-life application of physics, the interesting discussions andthe vast knowledge of the teacher. The "least" responses were predominantlycontent related which may indicate a possible consequence of the relaxedatmosphere. The two major comments were the fear of falling behind theintended curriculum and the constant diversion off the topic at hand. This was'summed up by one student who said she refrained from asking questionsbecause of the high risk of having the answer spill out far beyond the question'sintent or the answer's need. The relaxed atmosphere appeared to condoneconstant interjections by student comments and questions, either directed at theclass as a whole or to a neighbor. The "least" comments categorized under ,atmosphere addressed the distraction caused by private conversations amongstudents during class time.It is likely that the dichotomy of responses is related more to theteacher's teaching style than being a characteristic of the single-sexintervention. The finding that 78% of the responses on what the girls enjoyedleast about the class refer to content concerns highlights a serious issue. Thefact the all-girls class is behind in the curriculum content, particularly for theprovincial exam, could leave them inadequately prepared. In addition, it couldserve to reinforce the stereotype that girls experience more difficulty learningphysics.93Female Role ModelsA number of research studies have proposed the positive stimulus offemale role models (Ellis, 1981; Erickson, 1981; Stage, Kreinberg, Eccles &Becker, 1987; Stage, et al., 1985; Rosser, 1990). Sixteen years ago, aNational Science Foundation project concluded that the presence of role modelsduring the high school years appeared to be the most effective strategy toincrease women's participation in mathematics and sciences (Fox, 1976). Withthis in mind, the female students were asked how they thought having a femalephysics teacher might make a difference. While three of the students believedit would make more sense, given that the school was interested in increasingfemale enrolment, 17 did not believe it would make a difference whatsoever tothem, although one of the students elaborated that she found female teachersmore able to explain concepts in a way that helped her to understand better. Arecurring comment was that teacher personality, attitude, knowledge, andteaching style is what contributes to successful learning. In hindsight, aquestion addressing their contact with professional women in the sciences mayhave more clearly indicated the significance of female role models for careeraspirations. The teacher was asked if he had invited female scientists and/orengineering professionals into the classroom. He admitted that he had not andimmediately talked of the trip his previous class had made to the local universitycomputer lab.94Opinion of An All-Girls ClassAs stated earlier, 2 of the 20 girls had specifically registered in the all-girls Physics 30 class and 2 would have transferred in to have this particularteacher had they not been assigned to it. The other 16 simply found an 'F' ontheir registration cards. Some of the students had assumed the "F" stood forFrench and were somewhat perplexed. It actually stood for "Female." One ofthe 2 who chose this particular class did not need physics for her chosencareer path and had originally decided not to continue after the first levelcourse. Only after speaking with the popular physics teacher and finding outthat a small all-girls Physics 30 class was expected, did she decide to take it.This same student, however, did not think any other courses should be taughtin a single-sex setting. The second student required the course for her careerintentions. This student thought that girls might benefit from being taught Math30 and 31 in an all-girls environment. Three other students also suggestedMath. One other student thought English would be beneficial for her in asingle-sex environment as she found the participation of the boys annoying in asubject she liked very much. Ultimately, the vast majority of these studentswere not interested in being taught in an all-female environment for anothersubject. This, and other findings noted earlier, raise the issue of whether theacceptance of the program was more related to the popular teacher teachingthe course than to the learning experience of being in an all-girls class.95It was interesting to note the change in handwriting for this particularitem -- "Are there other subjects you would like to be taught in an all-girlsclass?" Looking at all the other item responses, it was noted that 40% of thestudents switched from cursive to manuscript writing and 50% chose to respondin all capitals with only one having used all capitals on previous responses.One student used an exclamation mark as well as all capitals and anotherelaborated with a comment that suggested going to a convent school if an all-girls education was what one wanted. It appears reasonable to conclude thatthis particular item solicited an emotional response that indicated a strongpreference for a coeducational environment.Feminist ViewsIn the interview, the students were asked if they thought the concept ofthe all-girls class fit in with any feminist issues they had heard about or readabout. Over half of the students reported the idea seemed to be a contradictionthat goes against equality by either providing extra privileges to girls, orassuming girls are not as capable as boys. At one extreme, one student usedthe word "condescending" in referring to the assumption that girls cannot learnwith males in the same class. At the other extreme, another student thought itmight produce the opposite effect and cause the males to feel intimidated.Three of the girls did not see a connection to feminism at all. One student96defensively claimed that the class was not about women's rights but aboutlearning physics. Though some students talked about women's equality, 75%of those interviewed made no reference to the concept of gender equity.Four of the students did elaborate that the intervention was giving girls achance to be successful in a traditionally male area thereby encouraging femaleparticipation in the scientific professions. One student noted that it helped herbecome aware that maybe there has not been equal opportunity for females.This particular student's mother had just returned from New York City whereshe had read about a research study that found negative differences in theways girls' questions were responded to by classroom teachers. Thesereflected on the role of the intervention in addressing gender inequality.Some of the students admitted knowing little about feminism and all itsimplications. One student mentioned that the physics teacher was the onlyteacher, however infrequently, to bring up the issues women face. During oneinformal observation, the teacher briefly presented a newspaper articledescribing a historical perspective of women's struggles. The article was thenpassed around during instruction time. As I observed the girls attending to thenewspaper clipping, it was evident that all of them gave it a cursory inspectionbefore handing it to a neighbor. Once circulated it was placed on the backtable and remained for two days before disappearing.It is apparent that the present students accept this class as their only97choice to acquire grade 12 physics with only one seemingly determined to alterher fate. All of the students had positive comments about learning physics, theatmosphere, the teacher's passion and knowledge of the subject, and theteacher himself as a person. Had the girls been given a choice of single-sex ormixed physics instruction in the same scheduling space, it seems reasonable toexpect that many would have opted for the mixed class. On the other hand,given their admiration and respect for their current teacher of physics, I expectthey would choose his class over any other consideration.The Previous Year's StudentsIt was decided to approach the previous year's students who were nolonger at the school based on the belief that distance and hindsight might offera different perspective. Similar questionnaires to those used with the presentstudents were mailed out to 29 students and 11 were returned, providing a 39%return rate.Analysis of the data indicated similar patterns of response to the presentstudent questionnaire responses on almost all of the items. The one differencethat did emerge was on the item that asked what they enjoyed least about theclass. The most cited response was the competitiveness of the students in theclass. Competitiveness was not mentioned by the present students in anyclass context outside of one student stating she enjoyed competing with boys.98Summary of the FindingsThe school program of an all-girls physics class was started with twogoals in mind: increasing female enrolment and decreasing the dropout rate.According to the school administration, the goals are being met though it is notconclusive to the researcher that enrolment increases are due to theintervention itself. Parents appear to be the more influential component ofencouragement to pursue high school science courses. Friends and teachersalso played a part but given career aspirations are generally explored andconstantly adapted throughout childhood and adolescence, it is reasonable thatparental encouragement is the greater influence for most students. It is evidentthat this particular program, in itself, likely does not serve to encourage femalestudents to explore a science course they had not previously considered. Onlyone student had no intention of taking the course but had decided to afterdiscussing it with the current physics teacher for whom she has tremendousrespect and admiration.It is apparent that the present students accept this class as their onlyavenue to acquire grade 12 physics. With only 4 of the students specificallyselecting the class and 16 adamantly uninterested in single-sex instruction forother subjects, it would seem that given a choice, few students would elect anall-female environment.Though most of the students did not elect this particular class, the99majority of them had many positive comments about it. The personality andknowledge of the instructor appears to be a significant factor in the girls'acceptance and enjoyment of it. One student referred to the local and nationalattention the program had experienced as one aspect that the students foundexciting. Having a researcher travel from Vancouver may have contributed to asense of importance as well. At the same time, it may be exciting to be part ofsomething unique though not really comprehending just what it is that is soparticularly interesting.The relaxed atmosphere of the class was generally viewed positively bymost of the students though whether it is the result of the single-sexenvironment or the teaching style of the instructor is unclear. While thestudents enjoyed the atmosphere the class provided, they also saw it asinterfering with the completion of core curriculum through constant excursionsoff the topic and constant interruptions by "student questions and commentsdirected to the teacher and amongst classmates.Increased participation was reported by over half of the students incomparison to other classes, though as one student revealed, it was not alwayscourse specific. It seems reasonable to expect that a relaxed and possibly non-threatening atmosphere would encourage student participation regardless of themembers of the class. However, many variables contribute to the atmosphereof a classroom including the teacher's personality, the cohesiveness of the100group, and individual student personalities. Whether the single-sex environmentwas a significant factor in stimulating increased participation is uncertain. Thatit was one variable is probable.There seemed to be a general acceptance that boys can and dointimidate girls to the point of some girls refraining from participating more fullyand feeling less competent. While most of the students did not feel that boysintimidated them personally in their classes, they acknowledged anunderstanding and acceptance that some girls could be intimidated. It appearsthis acceptance, coupled with a caring and enthusiastic teacher, served toconvince the students that the program was worthy of their agreement toparticipate.The teacher's agreement to transfer to the school to teach the class maywell have encouraged the students to reconsider their initial responses to theconcept. His obvious passion for physics and dynamic display of such mayalso have contributed to the general enjoyment of the class. With his caringand student centred approach, there seems little doubt that the role he playedin creating the amiable atmosphere was significant.It may be encouraging to see that over a third of the class reportedincreased interest in Science as a result of this class. The analysis suggests,however, that this increase is not likely due simply to the gender design of theclass. The majority of students reporting no change in interest may indicate the101desire to take physics purely as a prerequisite for further possibilities.Given the career uncertainty of many of the students, it is surprising thatthe school did not perceive a need to address it with an extension of theintervention program, using female role models from the nearby university. It isexpected that such an extension would offer the students an opportunity toexplore the realities of scientific and technological professions for women.Another means to address the school's goal of increasing femaleenrolment would be to have presentations to female junior high studentsconsidering the design of their high school programs. With 75% of the presentstudents reporting their previous perceptions of physics as being a difficultsubject and not having interest in it, interaction between these two groups offemale students would likely have tremendous potential in eliminatingmisconceptions. Secondary schools, like post-secondary institutions can offeroutreach programs to their feeder schools. This initiative, however, wouldrequire further demands on teacher and student schedules.The student concerns about their preparedness for the provincial examand their knowledge of being substantially behind the other physics class,predominantly male, are certainly valid concerns and need to be addressed.Despite the enjoyment of learning more of applied physics, it did take awayfrom the required curriculum necessary to be prepared and feel confident towrite the final examination.102The physics teacher perceived a difference in learning styles for girls andboys that he had not previously identified in his 10 years teaching experience.This finding appears significant, especially in relation to the content lag incomparison to the other class. In accommodating the revelation of a differentlearning style, the teacher may have over-emphasized the contextualapplication of physics thereby consuming necessary core content time. Giventhat the program was nearing the end of its third year, however, one wouldexpect that the trials of accommodation would have come to a workable andeffective assimilation. The possibility of inadvertently perpetuating femaleinferiority appears very real.Generally, the present students have accepted the organization of thesingle-sex class. It appeared that a significant variable in their acceptance ofthe condition of taking physics appeared to be the admiration and respect forthe instructor. His belief in the effectiveness of the intervention and hisenjoyment of the class may have likely served to encourage the students toaccept the program's premise. That the students had no choice would alsocause some acceptance.That the school began a single-sex physics class for the benefit of itsfemale students demonstrates acknowledgement of a need to addressstereotypical conceptions long associated with women and science andparticularly physics. To attempt to do something and take the risk of innovation103is admirable. At the same time, a program of this sort must tread with care asits ramifications can be unpredictable. It would seem frequent evaluations toensure its purposefulness is crucial because of the potential to undermine thevery reasons for its inception. From my understanding, the school haddetermined the success of the program by comparing academic scoresbetween females and males. As the sole measure it seems rather in conflictwith the specific mandates originally set out.104Chapter SixThe ConclusionsPrior to this research study I must admit that the idea of single sexschooling being advantageous for female students was already gaining groundin my own mind. As a recent convert to feminism, I was exploring andevaluating the legacy of patriarchal values, beliefs, and practices. As aneducator concerned with the potential of youth, I began considering the benefitsof female dominated classrooms. Upon hearing of a high school program thatsegregated females and males for instruction in a subject very much maledominated, I anticipated substantiating some of the ideas formulating in mymind. Recognizing that this bias may have played a part in the design of thequestionnaire and interview questions, it was important to me to have myCommittee members plus one other professor, peruse the questionnaire andinterview questions beforehand. The intent of the study, however, was touncover what sense the students made of the particular intervention they wereinvolved in. I consciously decided to neutralize my own ideas and simply guidethe students to share their understanding.The understanding of the program's beginnings seemed crucial to placethe intervention within a context. Knowing the school's objectives contributes tothe evaluation of the program's success. Millam (1989) states the need for105schools to examine themselves in order to set realistic goals in the area ofequal opportunity. She offers three stages: collecting and analyzing own data,a diagnosis of the problems or needs, and finally, solutions to reach specificgoals. At the school in this study, the idea of intervention began with theconcerns of the female Science Department Head at the time. From myunderstanding, she brought the idea to the school administration's attention andthe idea became a reality. What is significant here is that someone perceived aneed for intervention to bridge girls and physics, and single-sex instructionbecame a solution that could readily be injected into the school experience.The principal spoke of two goals of the program: increasing female enrolmentin physics and decreasing the female attrition rate. According to him the goalsare being met by the current program, though formal statistics were notavailable.Martin (1981) and James and Yourig (1989) discuss the need to presenteducational issues, and gender equity in particular, to the students in order forthem to decide whether change is desirable or not. The premise appears tobe that if students do not see a need for change, the chances of one occurringare slim. The school, for whatever reason, did not include student voices inany stage of the intervention development or subsequent program and simplyacted in what can only be perceived as the students' best interests. Versey(1990) speaks to the same idea as she acknowledges the great strides made to106encourage the increase in female participation in science courses but cautionsthat we cannot assume this to be all that is needed and that the girls will simplytake it from there. The issues of women and science, and fundamentally theissue of women and society, need to be brought alive for the students. Itseems paramount that students become an integral part of a school's self-examination and the subsequent decision making process to address identifiedproblems and needs. This would certainly eliminate misunderstandings such asone student believing the "experiment" was set up by "some guy over inEngland," and others feeling somewhat insulted at the implication that girlscannot function as well with the presence of boys in the classroom. This lackof participation by the students in the planning process likely contributes tostudent misconceptions which is significant as the program's intent is toincrease female enrolment in physics.The school had not documented any statistical information to date whichis surprising given the program objectives to increase enrolment and decreasefemale attrition rates. When the principal was asked how the program wasbeing monitored, he replied that they "just look at achievement rates." This waspuzzling given his later comment that the program was one of the moresignificant things the school was doing. The discrepancy between objectivesand evaluation may, in part, be due to the departure of the female ScienceDepartment Head at the time, as she returned to graduate school the year the107single-sex class began. As the owner of the original idea, she may well havemonitored the program differently. Though this intervention was not an officialresearch study, with participants actively interested in contributing to the currentknowledge of gender equity, innovative school programs should be monitoredand evaluated throughout the process. The school may eventually compilesome form of statistical information but the absence of student feedback mustbe questioned.That the single-sex program has attracted girls to science, and to physicsin particular, is doubtful. All but one of the present students had alreadychosen to take physics. Girls who feel less competent in science may be moreattracted to single-sex instruction but may not make this decision without someencouragement and support. It would seem that encouragement to considerthe possibility of option science courses would be most effective before highschool decisions are made. Interventions after decisions have been made mayencourage students already interested to continue while interventions beforedecisions have been made would likely serve to broaden and extend theknowledge base from which the decisions are made.It seems reasonable that students draw on a number of sources prior todesigning a high school program including parents, teachers, counsellors, andfriends. Astin and Snyder (1984) report that the role of guidance counselling isoften ambiguous; students do not make full use of the services, and students108feel that counsellors tend not to influence their course and career decisions.Matyas (1985) states that counsellors and teachers can play a significant role inemphasizing the range of scientific careers available and encouraging girls tokeep their options open in the selection of high school course studies. It seemscrucial that school staffs be informed of their obligation to present the full rangeof career possibilities to all students. Though not an intention of this study, thecounselling services some of the students received appeared to discouragestudents from exploring possibilities.In one of Kelly's (1987) studies she reported that parents viewed non-traditional courses as very important for girls' educational and career prospectsmore so than the girls' science teachers. In this present study, the studentsreported that parents were the more significant influence on their decision tostudy the sciences. One student reported encouragement by her grandmotherto study physics. Matyas (1985) emphasises the importance of parentalinfluence beginning at the pre-school level and continuing through extra-curricular activities. Matyas also concludes that the attitudes of parents towardschool science can be influential in girls' choices of sciences courses, and itcertainly seems to hold true for this study.The myth that physics is a difficult subject seems to have persisted.DoBoer (1991) reports that in 1930 one of the reasons for low physicsenrolment was girls' lack of interest in it. Yet, earlier statistics from 1890-1900109indicate that enrolment and performance for all high school subjects were verymuch balanced (Tyack & Hansot, 1990). The secondary school curriculum waspredominantly academic at this time though early in the twentieth century morediverse programs began. Business and commercial courses were introducedand again, enrolment by sex was basically balanced. Once manual trainingand home economic courses were introduced, differences in enrolmentsappeared. Economic and social pressures in the early 1900s were placed onschools to develop curricula that would prepare students for the workforce(Spring, 1990). A 1911 and 1913 New York City survey of high schools listedone advantage of the diverse programs as the "opportunity to adapt instructionto the two sexes" (Spring, 1990, p. 218). With marriage and motherhood as ayoung girl's expectation and consequent reality for most, the opportunity tostudy more practical courses must have appeared very attractive.With the advent of the streaming practices, the study of the sciences andmaths became part of the educational tract for students destined for post-secondary education, and consequently was viewed as a superior programwhich still exists today. DeBoer (1991) discusses the declining enrolments inphysics and chemistry courses from 1900-1928 and reports the physicscommunity's concern that physics was too difficult and abstract to attractstudents. Teachers were implored to make the science content moreinteresting and meaningful to students' lives in order to compensate for the110abstract quality. With males the predominant physics student, it hardly seemssurprising that the content was geared to make the subject more appealing tothem which likely contributes to the myth that physics is a masculine subject.In the current study, the notion of physics as a difficult subject wasperceived by the majority of students prior to the course. The students alsocited this reason most often when asked why girls generally tend to shy awayfrom studying physics. Kelly's (1987b) research supports this view of femalestudents fearing that physics is too difficult for them. However, in Kelly'sresearch, and this study, once girls became familiar with actual physics contenttheir earlier perceptions of difficulty dissipate dramatically. What appearssignificant here is the implication that girls may not have the self-confidence tobelieve they can successfully manage science courses they perceive as difficult.Many of the students in the present study perceive that the schooloperates the special class because of the intimidating behaviors of boys incoeducational physics classrooms. Whyte (1986) comments that boys are likelyto make negative comments if a girl incorrectly answers a question. Kelly(1987c) notes that "adolescent boys are characteristically scornful of girls...[with]many instances of boys using ridicule to remind girls of their inferior status" (p.71). This does seem to fit with what the study teacher explained as the needfor boys to put down anyone, not girls specifically, to make themselves lookgood. Interestingly, very few of the girls had experienced or witnessed what111they would describe as intimidating behavior by boys in their many coedclasses. Some of the student comments verged on feeling insulted by theimplication that they could not stand their ground verbally or academically withmale peers in a physics class. One student nonchalantly commented that shehad "been the brunt of put downs by boys" but judiciously declared that theyhad also been the brunt of hers. That boys tend to dominate scienceclassrooms verbally and physically is well documented in the research. Withover half of the 20 female students in the study reporting increased participationin the single-sex class when compared to other classes, it certainly seemspossible that more subtle intimidation by boys occurs within coeducationalclassrooms.With the emergence of females in the educational arena it was apparentthat girls could meet the academic standards expected, with performance equalto or better than that of the boys (Tyack Hansot, 1990). It is noted that theearly North American school students studied predominantly an academiccurriculum where girls and boys undertook the same subjects. It seems thatwith the advent of streaming practices envisioned by those interested in theeducation of the whole child encompassing student differences in "abilities,interests, and destinies in later life" (Tyack & Hansot, 1990, p. 168) was alsothe advent of feminine and masculine subjects. With the hard won gains toeducate girls finally realized, gender distinction took on another form.112The feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s challenged socializedattitudes based on gender and arguments of superior male intellectual capacityhave been questioned. Differences in learning styles and approaches havebecome the latest gender descriptors, or perhaps more accurately, genderrestrictors. The basic tenet of this reasoning is that femininity is concerned withpeople and masculinity with objects. In psychological circles, the same principlecan be heard -- girls seek identity through their connectedness to others andboys through separation from others (Gilligan, 1982). We see this clearly inreports of girls' interest in collaborative activities and boys' interest incompetitive activites.In the current study, the teacher did not describe the girls specifically asmore cooperative or less competitive than boys but referred to their willingnessto help one another as opposed to the overt smugness of the boys knowingsomething others do not. The female students' helpfulness was evident inclassroom observations where they aided in the answering of classmatequestions. The students reported preferences for laboratories and discussionand I judged the activities observed to be highly collaborative, and devoid of aneed to be finished first or to prove one's intellectual prowess. Slavin (as citedin Lockheed, 1984) reports that cooperative interactions stimulate studentlearning. Lockheed (1984) looks at the myriad of positive effects of cooperativelearning.113Cooperation requires students to evaluate information, exercisejudgement, take initiative in using different sources of information,synthesize ideas contributed by different people in the group,understanding the perspective of others regarding shared problems(p. 128).It seems that an emphasis on cooperative learning in any scienceclassroom would reap learning benefits. That girls appear more drawn tocooperative efforts may derive from their gender role of caring for others, but itmay also derive from a sense of the need for wholeness. Prominent feminists(Gilligan, 1990; Kelly, 1981) have suggested that females are more relationshiporientated, more caring, and more nurturing than males and Kelly (1981)suggests that it is this concern for people over things that disinterests girls inthe mechanistic approach prevalent in scientific fields. Kelly also purports thatthe dominant tenet of science today is one of competition -- for money, status,and the desire to be first.The teacher reported a revelation, unknown in his previous decade ofteaching, that females learn differently from males. He sees his femalestudents as holistic learners viewing information or events within a web ofinterrelationships. This certainly is substantiated in the literature (Kelly, 1987;Gilligan, 1990). As an educator, I have observed that this kind of learning, orperhaps more accurately described as teaching, is best for all students andstimulates active thinking as opposed to memorization and regurgitation of114facts. It seems clear that to see things in context will produce a wider array ofquestions and consequently, a wider array of answers. That all students shouldbe taught within a more integrative approach is evident in the B.C. Ministry ofEducation Year 2000 document. One of the fundamental principles of thecurricula legislation is the belief that teaching within contextual frameworks iscrucial to learning.The majority of the female students in the study believed there was adifference in the way girls and boys learn though many expressed a certainhesitancy in their response. They saw differences but seemed reluctant toplace too much importance on them. An interesting comment by one studentwas that perhaps boys learn the way they think they are supposed to. Could itbe that boys are more goal orientated and view their learning as an individualendeavour while girls are more interested in collaborative approaches tolearning? Most of the female students in this study did cite a preference for themore collaborative classroom activities and half of the class reported increasedparticipation compared to other classes. Research studies have shown thatdiscussion and laboratory activities are very agreeable to girls (Rosser, 1990).Kahle (1985) found that these activities are a significant part of an effectiveteacher's repertoire since they are equally appealing to boys.The students demonstrated a desire to understand the whys and howsbehind the content presented and as one student put it, "they need to see115things step-by-step." It seems they were not prepared to take leaps withoutfully understanding. To my mind, this would be desirable for all learners. Itmay be that being in an all-girls class encouraged the students to feel confidentin stating they did not understand or needed further clarification on something.Interestingly, the teacher commented that he gets questioned a lot more in thegirls' class and that he is held accountable far more for his part in the learningprocess. It is possible that the process orientation the students demonstrate issomewhat in conflict with the amount of content they are expected to cover. Ifstudents are simply taking in information, as a sponge might water, then itseems reasonable to expect more content could be covered. The other grade12 physics class, predominantly male, was apparently two units ahead.At first glance, the single-sex intervention appears to be an excitinginnovation to address gender equity in the sciences. That the school wasinterested in addressing the science and girls issue is most admirable.Lockheed and Klein (1985) report some evidence that single-sex classes,especially for new academic material, may have positive effects on latercoeducational classroom interactions. However, they also propose that long-term effects of segregation would likely serve to perpetuate sex stereotypes.Sheinin (1981) discusses the recommendation of single-sex classes for girls inthe physical sciences but is clear to indicate its benefits are only in thebeginning stages of a course of study. That the students, through their116curriculum concerns, intimated a kind of second-class treatment is certainlyworthy of being addressed. Perhaps single-sex instruction in the first-levelclass would be sufficient to give female students enough encouragement tofurther explore interest and ability to successfully consider further physics, andas a result, broaden their career options.Feminism and this class were seen as contradictory for half of the girls,others were unsure of a connection at all, and still others saw the two as totallyunrelated. I was reminded of the Canadian documentary, Talk 16, where the16-year old girls were either little informed or negative about feminism.Filmmakers Lund and Mitchell concluded that the women's movement is notreaching out to young women (Lipovenka, 1992). Having a male teacher and amale administrator seemingly in charge of the whole program may contribute tothe lack of the program's relationship to feminism. This is a feminist strategyand the fact that the students do not know it as such is a serious flaw.The school's concern with enrolment numbers and achievement scoresappears to indicate an interest in the product rather than the process. Onemight even speculate that given no formal monitoring or evaluation of theprogram and its implications, the school believes that they have done their partby doing, at least, something, and have left the rest to the girls.The students targeted for the program had not received any informationabout it before the first day of class. The present class of students, though117near adulthood, had never been asked what they think or how they feel aboutthe program. My mind fills with patriarchal visions and words, "We're doing thisfor you! What do you want to discuss it for? Just wait, you'll appreciate itlater." This might seem a little harsh and unfair, but it seems that women'svoices, rights, and feelings are simply being brushed aside once more asirrelevant to the purpose at hand -- increasing enrolment figures and displayinghigh marks.Despite the criticism above, the students, for the most part, enjoyed theclass. Half of them were participating more than in other classes, and help andencouragement were plentiful. Their teacher is a passionate and popularinstructor, and the class was often described as sociable, fun, and full offriends. However, regardless of the more positive aspects of the class, thestudents had serious concerns about the curriculum being covered and wereconcerned about their success in the upcoming provincial examination. InSheinin's (1981) suggestion of the possibility of single-sex intervention, sheclearly declares that the course should "NOT be less rigorous with respect tothe concepts, theories, and experiments covered" (p. 95). That the studentswere reluctant to share their concerns with their teacher may be indicative ofnot wanting to upset the applecart that the school had so graciously set beforethem. Those most concerned were afraid of offending this teacher whoobviously delighted in teaching them. This may suggest the program exists for118the school and not for the students. Student enjoyment of the class may bemore of a response to the teacher than the course.The program has tremendous potential to not only dispel the male mythof physics but to validate girls' learning approaches and concerns that onceacknowledged, could strengthen the students' own acceptance and encouragethem to acknowledge their needs in a coeducational classroom which wouldlikely benefit male student learning as well. These noted differences in learningmay not be that significant as far as optimal learning goes, but I suspect havebeen over-emphasized, exaggerated or perhaps even created to justify theschool's program.It seems to be crucial that the male myth in physical sciences could alsobe challenged by the presentation of role models. Not providing role modelsseems to me rather serious especially given the discrepancy between ideal andexpected occupations and the uncertainty of aspirations. However, the schoolmay well be aware of the academic encouragement these students havereceived from home and believe it to be sufficient. With the city's university amere two blocks away, however, it seems unfortunate that interaction with rolemodels in scientific and technological careers are not provided. Rosser (1990)discusses the need for girls to know that being a woman, a wife, a mother, anda scientist is compatible and possible:119A major issue concerning most females is the possibility of combining ascientific career with marriage and/or family... Role models of successfulwomen scientists from a variety of backgrounds who exhibit diverselifestyles can best address this issue (p. 70).Most of the students did not believe having a female physics teacherwould make a difference though it is evident that a female physics teacherwould only be a role model for a female physics teacher not for a femalescientist. In hindsight, further discussion with the students may have led tomore meaningful possibilities of the influence of female scientist role models.Role models, I believe, are tantamount in expanding the basis of real possibilityof a female student in realizing that the possibilities heard of are in fact alreadya reality for some women.Connecting with male and female role models from the field would likelycontribute to the stereotypical expectations of both sexes. Though some ofthese interactions might be valuable in segregated quarters, total segregationby sex would not be dealing with the whole issue -- that of male and femaleconceptions of appropriate careers and roles. The role model idea could beprovided for junior high girls by inviting the high school physics students to helpdispel the perception of difficulty by preparing and presenting their experiencewith physics content to the younger students prior to the selection of highschool course decisions.Though the need for the teacher as a role model did not seem significant120for the students in the study, a few of them thought having a woman wouldmake more sense given the program's purpose. Those who had taken thesingle-sex first level physics course had a female teacher, who unfortunatelywas a biology teacher and, according to the students, did not like teachingphysics and had borrowed much of her material from the male physicsspecialist in the school. The students were aware of her struggle to present thecontent and noted discrepancies between the classroom content and theexpectations on the borrowed examinations. Harding (1983) suggests from theevidence of teaching influence on girls' choice of sciences courses that teachingstyle and individual teacher behaviors are likely more influential than the sex ofthe instructor.The students did not appear, however, to be aware of actual trendsbeginning to develop at the post-secondary school level. Sharing the onlystatistics I inadvertently had, many of the students were delightfully surprised tohear of the female enrolment figures of medical students at the University ofBritish Columbia over the last couple of years. The students had no idea thatnumbers were rapidly nearing a balance of the sexes. Two of the studentseagerly asked if I knew of the engineering school statistics. Unfortunately Icould only direct them to telephone the local university and ask the Admissionspersonnel. It appeared clear to me that these students were not informed ofthe strides and struggles of women and it seemed the information could affect121their career aspirations. Interaction with women engaged in these lesstraditional occupations may have given these students a greater basis for theirown future decisions. Even statistics, on their own, may encourage youngfemale students to consider a wider range of career possibilities.The importance of this research study is its presentation of views bythose imagined to benefit by the administrative decision. It can help a schooldismantle its preoccupation with administrative details and view the implicationsof its policies and practices on a larger scale. The study has not attempted toprove or disprove the benefits of school programs. It has merely sought tofocus attention on the issues raised by both the literature and the students.Gender issues seem to be a tightrope endeavour these days with dailyreports in the media presenting it almost as a tiresome debate. For the schoolit may well have been easier to simply carry on as it was prior to theintervention. I heartily applaud schools who do respond to the possibility oftheir responsibility. It would be desirable for more schools to inquire as to theirpart in the gender drama. However, as Millman (1989) states, gender cannotbe compartmentalized but must become an integral part of what a school iswith short term objectives and constant monitoring of effects. Without the manyfacets involved, gender equity becomes trivialized and viewed once again as apersonal and individual problem. An isolated strategy is likely not sufficient to122address such a complex issue as women's lower participation in science.Multiple strategies within a team approach context certainly makes more sensein response to the complexity of the issue. Responsibility extends beyond thedesign of the program to the steering of the project as well. The strength ofthis school's intent may have become its weakness.At the same time, the program has shed further light on possible genderdifferences in learning styles. Kelly (1987b) concludes that girls and boys seemto respond differently to science and that further research in single-sex andcoeducational schools may continue to explore learning patterns. Thesestudents prefer collaborative activities and are very interested in the applicationof physics to real life.This particular school does have a high enrolment of female students inthe sciences, and physics in particular, to the point of a near balance betweenthe sexes which seem to be the result of something other than the prescribedintervention. What might be helpful is research to compare and contrast withother high schools with low female enrolments. This could lead to theidentification of possible school characteristics and/or policies which tend tofoster girls' interest in sciences. Research of this nature, with a control group ofstudents in a mixed physics class in the same school with the same teacherwould certainly illuminate any benefits of single-sex instruction in a traditionallymale-defined discipline.123Inviting students to become a part of the gender equity issue seemscrucial for change to become a reality for them. The desire and need to havewomen participating fully with acknowledgement and validation of women'sconcerns must be brought alive within the coming generation. However,women need to be educated in what science is before their voices can beheard. It seems reasonable that science, with its legacy of tradition, will notchange without an impetus and it seems two things are crucial to maintain thepressure. More women need to participate in the sciences and feministconcerns must continue to flourish and challenge existing premises. 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DocumentNo. Catalogue 81-204.Steinkamp, M. W. & Maehr, M. L. (1984). Gender Differences in MotivationalOrientations Toward Achievement in School Science: A QuantitativeSynthesis. American Educational Research Journal,  Vol. 21, No. 1, pp.39-59.Taylor, H. (1985). INSET for equal opportunities in the London Borough ofBrent' in J. Whyte, R. Deem, L. Kant, & M. Cruickshank (Eds.) Girl-Friendly Schooling. London: Methuen & Co.Tyack, D. & Hansot, E. (1990). Learning Together: A History of Coeducation in American Schools. New York: Yale University Press.U.S. Office of Technology Assesssment. (1986). Commission on Professsionals in Science and Technology.  Manpower Comments 23(1), 5.Versey, J. (90). Taking action on gender issues in science education. SchoolScience Review, Vol. 71, No. 256, pp. 9-14.Vockell, E.L. & Lobonc, S. (1981). Sex-role stereotyping by high school133females in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.  Vol. 18,pp. 209-219.Walberg, H. J. (1983). Synthesis of research on teaching. In M.C. Wittrock(Ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching.  Washington, D.C.:American Educational Research Association.Walton, A. (1986). Women Scientists: Are They Really Different? AnExploration of the Significance of Attitudes. In J. Harding (Ed.)Perspectives on Gender and Science. London: The Falmer Press.Weinreich-Haste, H. (1986). Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Does RationalityOvercome a Dualistic World View? In J. Harding (Ed.) Perspectives on Gender and Science.  London: The Falmer Press.Whyte, J. (1985). Girl friendly science and the girl friendly school. In J.Whyte, R. Deem, L. Kant & M. Cruickshank (Eds.) Girl-Friendly Schooling. London: Methuen & Co.Whyte, J., Deem, R., Kant, L. & Cruickshank, M. (1985). Editors' Introduction.In J. Whyte, R. Deem, L. Kant & M. Cruickshank (Eds.) Girl-Friendly Schooling. London: Methuen & Co.Whyte, J. (1986). Girls into Science and Technology: the story of a project.London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Young, D. J. & Fraser, B. J. (1990). Science Achievement of Girls in Single-Sex and Coeducational Schools. Research in Science & Technological Education, Vol 8, No. 1, pp. 5-20.Zerega, M. E., Haertel, G. D., Tsai, S., & Walberg, H, J. (1986). LateAdolescent Sex Differences in Science Learning. Science Education,Vol. 70, No. 4, pp. 447-460.134Appendix APresent StudentsSINGLE-SEX PHYSICS INSTRUCTIONYou have been invited to participate in a research project designed tocollect information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of single-sexphysics instruction for female students. The information will help other schoolsand districts that are considering single-sex instruction for high school physicscourses.The questionnaire does require your name for interview purposes onlyand you may be assured that your individual identity will be completelyanonymous from any written accounts. The study is only interested in groupinformation.Responding to the questionnaire will take about twenty minutes. It iscompletely voluntary and will have no influence on your grade or standing in thecourse. If you complete the questionnaire, it will be assumed that you havesigned the consent letter in favor of participation.Half of the students will be randomly selected for a personal interviewwith me at a later date so that elaboration of some of the items may be given.Sylvia D. Brendel'Telephone: 239-6901Student NamePlease read and respond with an "X" to each item.1. What is your current age?[ ] 15 1 17[ 16 [ 1 182. What other Science courses are you presently taking?^1 Chemistry 10^Biology 10^Chemistry 20 Biology 20Chemistry 30^Biology 30[^ ] no others3. What other Science courses do you expect to take before grade 12graduation?Chemistry 10^Biology 10j Chemistry 20^[___] Biology 20Chemistry 30^[^] Biology 304. Which describes your^participation in this course?[^ ] I chose to be^in this all girls class.[^ ] I was assigned to this all girls class.5.^Is there another student with whom you work on physics outside ofclass time?Yes, another girlYes, a boy135136[^ ] No6. Do you think high school physics should be compulsory for allstudents?yes^[^] no7. Which describes the grades you get in Physics?I^] They are better than in most subjects.[^1 They are about average when compared with other subjects.[^1 They are worse than in other subjects.8. Has this course influenced your interest in science?^] My interest in Science has decreased because of this course.[^] My interest in Science has not changed because of this course.]^ My interest in Science has increased because of this course.9. When you do very well on an assignment or test in this class, what doyou usually attribute it to?[^ ] ability^ [ ]^ effortgood luck [^] ease of work1^1 help received^ good day10.^When you do poorly on an assignment or test in this class, what do youusually attribute it to?lack of ability^L^1 lack of effort1 bad luck difficulty of work137] help not received^[^ ] bad day11^Before you took this course, what did you expect the subject of Physicsto be like?[^] very easy[^ ] easy1 neither easy or hard[^] hard[^ ] very hard12. Now that you have taken one course, what do you think of the course?^] very easyeasyneither easy or hardhardvery hard13. Which describes the subject of Physics for you?[^ ] I like Physics more than most subjects.[^] I like Physics about the same as other subjects.[^ ] I like Physics less than most subjects.14.^Which classroom activity do you prefer in Physics?laboratory[^] discussion138[^] lecture^] small-group activitywriting time15. Which classroom activity is your preference in other Science classes? 1 laboratorydiscussionlecturesmall-group activitywriting time116. Has anyone encouraged you to pursue science as a future career?1 Yes[^ ] NoIf yes, who?139Please supply a written response to the following questions. 17. With whom did you discuss the decision to take Physics?18. Why are you taking Physics 10/20?19. Has taking Physics helped you with any other subjects? How and whichsubjects?20. How is taking Physics valuable to your education?14021. What do you think are the reasons for a school to offer physicsinstruction in an all girls class?22. What aspect of this class do you enjoy most?23. What aspect of this class do you enjoy least?24. What is the most significant difference between this class and otherScience classes you are taking or have taken?14125. Why do you think so many girls shy away from selecting Physics for ascience class?26. If you had to describe this class in one word, what would that word be?27. How do you think having a female teacher might make a difference toyou?28. Are there other subjects you would like to be taught in an all-girls class?If yes, which subjects?29.^If you could change anything about Physics to make it better for you inanyway, what would you do?14230.^What are your future working goals at this time?Ideal Occupation:^Expected Occupation: Thank you very much for taking the time to complete this questionnaire. 143APPENDIX BStudent Interview Questions1. When you first heard about this course, what did you think?2. Were you in the all-girls Physics 10/20 class?3. If yes, what was it like? If no, what was your class like?4. Were you assigned this class or did you choose it?5. What is it like being in this class?6. What is one thing you think you will always remember about thisexperience?7. Has being in this class changed the way you think about yourself or theworld? Have you learned anything about yourself?8. Can you describe your participation in this class?9. What kinds of activities keep you interested in class?10. In what ways do you best learn the content of Physics?11. In this class, do you have a usual preference for working alone or in asmall group?12. Do you think girls and boys learn differently?13.^Is there anything you would like to add that would help me understandyour personal experience about this class?14414. Is there a change you would like to see that would serve your academicand/or social needs as a female student in this school?15. How does the concept of this class fit in with the feminist issues youhave heard about?16. Would you have taken Physics regardless of the class?17. How do you think the guys view the whole idea of this class?


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