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Gender-segregated science classrooms.

Lynda B.M. Ellis lynda at simvax.labmed.umn.edu
Tue May 30 17:07:27 EST 1995

Since this thread started with a question about science
education at the high school level, I will contribute my
understanding of an "experiment" at that level at the
University of Minnesota.  The disclaimer is that what I say
is what I remember of an article or talk read or given a while
ago, but if anyone wants more complete information, I volunteer
to try to find it out.

The Mathematics Department at the University of Minnesota has
offered a year-long advanced math course for high ability high 
school students for a number of years.  Students enroll in the 
course based on scores on a University test.  They noted with
concern that few girls even took the test, and there was a very
low (significantly lower than the boys) retention rate for girls.

The "experiment" was to offer two sections of this course.  
One section was all male, one section was 50% male, 50% female.  
Both sections were supposed to be taught exactly the same.

Over time, the number of girls taking the test increased, and
the retention rate of the girls also increased.  Eventually
they were able to go back to one section, approximately half
each gender.

- Lynda Ellis (lynda at simvax.labmed.umn.edu)

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