Using Spatial Skill Training to Bridge the STEM Gender Gap

Girl Builds Brackitz

When looking at the demographics of the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it’s clear to see that a gender divide exists (Beede et al. 2011). While there are many proposed reasons for this, one that can not be ignored is the lack of spatial skill development in younger girls.

High spatial aptitude is one of the cornerstone traits correlated with success in STEM fields, and studies show that boys may naturally be at an advantage when it comes to spatial aptitude. Furthermore, boys are encouraged to develop these skills more than girls are, and to engage in play that supports that development, such as playing with video games and construction systems.

Understanding that spatial skills can be developed through training allows for the opportunity toclose the spatial skill gap - and subsequently the STEM gender gap  by engaging girls in activities that improve spatial skills and by actively encouraging their growth as spatially adept thinkers.

 

 Getting Girls Involved in Spatial Skills Training

As previously mentioned, girls are put at a natural disadvantage when it comes to learning spatial skills and pursuing STEM careers. Aside from the fact that boys are advantageously wired for visual-spatial processing and girls aren’t, girls also face societal and psychological issues that must be dealt with in order for learning to take place.

For instance, girls’ confidence can be negatively affected by false beliefs, such as the idea that they can’t learn spatial skills beyond what they already possess, or that STEM jobs are “for men”. The importance of educators dispelling these beliefs through encouragement is secondary only to avoiding instilling these false beliefs in the first place.

Teachers can help build confidence in their female students by setting reasonable expectations of what types of improvements they can expect as a result of spatial skills development, and then measurably producing those results in their students through spatial skills training.

 

Activities for Developing Spatial Skills in Girls

Construction Systems

Traditionally, boys are seen as the “building” gender. But why should boys have all the fun? Girls love building and creating just as much as boys, and encouraging girls to play with construction systems fulfills this desire in a way that challenges gender norms, serving to open girls’ minds. After all, if they can play with and enjoy toys that are traditionally seen as “for boys”, then what’s stopping them from growing up to have  STEM careers that would be traditionally be seen as “for a man”?

 Brackitz is working to build a brighter future for girls interested in the STEM fields by providing the only construction system available that’s versatile enough to support the boundless creativity of the girls who will be using it to develop their spatial skills. Through the use of variable length attachments, and rotational and odd angle capability, Brackitz gives young girls an endless variety of ways to design and create so they can express their own unique individuality as they learn.

 Check out our Curriculum geared toward STEM LearningNew Call-to-action

Video Games

Another activity forimproving spatial skillsin girls is through playing video games. Playing certain video games in moderation has been shown to decrease the discrepancy in spatial aptitudes between girls and boys (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 1994). Some good video game options include games involving shapes such as Tetris, and 3D exploration and creation such as Minecraft.

Like construction systems, these games immerse girls in a world that requires them to flex their visual-spatial capabilities. A downside to video games, however, is that the worlds are pre-built. This means that, while games like Tetris and Minecraft may offer spatial problem solving challenges, they fail to stimulate the same level of visual-spatial creativity that open-ended construction systems like Brackitz inspire.

Aside from construction systems and video games, other activities for developing spatial skills in girls include the use of spatial language, open-ended puzzles, and more.

For more information, check out this article, 

12 Easy Activities To Boost Kids’ Spatial Intelligence / Reasoning

 

 

While boys may possess an innate aptitude in the realm of spatial cognition, there are manyways to improve spatial skills that work for both genders and could serve to narrow the STEM gender gap. Helping girls build their confidence in their ability to learn spatial skills and dispelling limiting beliefs about gender roles establishes a solid foundation on which girls can begin developing their spatial skills. Through activities such as video game play and construction systems such asBrackitz Complete STEAM Center an abundance of opportunities exists to prepare girls with the skills they need in order to excel at STEM careers.

 

Similar Articles:

Which Careers Require High Spatial Intelligence?

Benefits of Spatial Skill Development in Children

5 Best Ways to Improve Spatial Skills in Children

Spatial Skills: How to Grow Young Minds into STEM-Ready Thinkers

Using Spatial Skills to Bridge the STEM Gender Gap

Spatial Intelligence

 

 

Tags: stem education, spatial skills, stem gender gap


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