How to Make Girls Succeed in Math and Science

How to Make Girls Succeed in Math and Science

How to Make Girls Succeed in Math and Science

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 5 2009 12:24 PM

How to Make Girls Succeed in Math and Science

Over on Slate , there's a really interesting piece by Ray Fisman about the importance of female mentorship . Apparently, a recent working paper from the NBER found a way to measure the effects of female vs. male teachers on students at the Air Force Academy. It can be hard to distinguish among various complicating factors when studying how teachers influence students, but rigid protocols at the Academy apparently make it easier to isolate these factors. As Fisman puts it, the study found that "replacing a male instructor with a female one has such a strong effect on female achievement as to erase the gender gap entirely." That's a pretty powerful finding, and the study is persuasive. Check out the whole piece ; lots of interesting stuff in it. Now the $64 million question is: How do we make sure that women encounter the mentors and teachers they need-especially in those fields where women are scarce?

Meghan O’Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.