The Gender Gap in High School Physics: Examining the Context of Schools and Communities

Chelsea Moore, University of Texas at Austin
Catherine Riegle-Crumb, University of Texas at Austin

Despite diminishing gender gaps in many areas of math and science, females still lag behind males in rates of Physics course taking. However, little research has focused on how this might vary across schools. Several recent studies have found that gender gaps in math and science achievement may be attenuated or eliminated in more gender-equitable contexts. To further explore this possibility, we use data from Add Health and the AHAA study to examine school variation in the gender gap in Physics course taking and explore possible school and community contextual factors to help explain this variation. Preliminary findings suggest that there is significant variation in the gender gap across schools and community context may play a role. We find that the percentage of the female labor force in STEM occupations in the community may have a positive influence on females’ likelihood to take Physics relative to males.

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Presented in Session 13: Gender, Higher Education, and STEM Fields