Photograph courtesy of Flickr user dierk schaefer

Photograph courtesy of Flickr user dierk schaefer

Unfortunately, there is a somewhat prevalent idea that girls are limited in many of their abilities or are neurologically different to boys, ultimately leading them to be poorer at Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. This idea can be heard from academics such as Lawrence Summers who said that one reason the there are fewer women than men in science and engineering professorships might be that fewer women than men have the very high levels of intrinsic aptitudethat such jobs require. Or even comments from Michaela Strachan, a wildlife TV show presenter, who encouraged a generation of girls to pursue ambitions in biology and ecology, saying that men are wired differently, making it easier for them to learn the names and categories of animal species.

Furthermore, it is often thought that girls require different teaching styles to achieve in these subjects. In 2013, a list was published concerning “how to nurture your daughters abilities, which mentioned how girls begin processing information on the brains left or language side (suggesting that girls should read maths problems aloud), girls are more responsive to colour, that as girls get older they retain their mathematical and scientific abilities when applied to domestic scenarios and girls often hate science but love medicine.

Though these have been popular opinions in the past, there is no neurological difference between the brains of boys and those of girls, only individual capabilities regardless of gender and stereotypical characteristics that have been absorbed through the environment. It is shown that these negative comments and low expectations for girls in these subjects are harming their abilities to perform, this is known as Stereotype Threat. In fact, in most countries where there is a large amount of exposure to gender stereotyping (such as in the UK or Turkey), girls under-perform in maths in comparison to boys. But, in countries that offer more equal opportunities and resources for men and women (such as Iceland, Sweden and Norway), the gender gap between STEM subject performance is significantly reduced.

These idea of brain functioning differences between boys and girls are false; especially in the way they process information and colour, any differences observed are the result of personal factors and the pre-conceived idea of stereotypes effecting perception of the childs ability. Moreover, the factors contributing towards the difference in performance between girls and boys in STEM subjects are the result of gender stereotypes effecting the self-perception of girls, causing them to doubt their abilities and under-perform.

These stereotypes not only reinforcing old gender roles, such as domestic scenarios” and girls hating science but love caring profession of medicine, but they also contribute to a society where girls dont succeed because they have been taught not to.

What can we do?

By actively trying to address inequality in our society, we will be creating a nurturing environment for maximum potential; This includes limiting (or eradicating) the exposure of children to gender stereotypes and maximising their exposure to equal opportunities.

 

Menywod mewn pynciau STEM: Chwalur mythau

Yn anffodus, mae yna ryw gred gyffredin fod llawer o alluoedd merched yn gyfyngedig neu fod merched yn wahanol yn niwrolegol i fechgyn, sy’n golygu bod yn wanach mewn pynciau Gwyddoniaeth, Technoleg, Peirianneg a Mathemateg (STEM). Mae yna academyddion sy’n sôn am y syniad hwn, er enghraifft, Lawrence Summers a ddywedodd, “one reason the there are fewer women than men in science and engineering professorships might be that fewer women than men have the very high levels of ‘intrinsic aptitude’ that such jobs require”. Neu hyd yn oed sylwadau gan Michaela Strachan, cyflwynydd rhaglenni bywyd gwyllt ar y teledu, a anogodd genhedlaeth o ferched i fentro i faes bioeg ac ecoleg, gan ddweud, “men are wired differently, making it easier for them to learn the names and categories of animal species”.

Yn ogystal, tybir yn aml bod angen defnyddio dulliau gwahanol i addysgu merched er mwyn iddyn nhw lwyddo yn y pynciau hyn. Yn 2013, cyhoeddwyd rhestr yn cynghori rhieni ar sut i feithrin galluoedd eu merched. Roedd yn dweud bod merched yn dechrau prosesu gwybodaeth yn ochr chwith yr ymennydd, neu’r ochr iaith (gan awgrymu y dylai merched ddarllen problemau mathemateg yn uchel), bod merched yn ymateb mwy i liwiau, a bod merched, wrth iddyn nhw dyfu’n hŷn, yn cadw’u sgiliau mathemateg a gwyddoniaeth wrth eu defnyddio mewn sefyllfaoedd domestig, a bod merched yn aml yn casáu gwyddoniaeth ond yn dwli ar feddygaeth.

Er i’r syniadau hyn fod yn boblogaidd yn y gorffennol, nid oes gwahaniaeth niwrolegol rhwng ymennydd bechgyn a merched, dim ond galluoedd unigol waeth beth fo’u rhyw a nodweddion yn eu hamgylchedd sy’n achosi stereoteipio. Gwyddir bod y sylwadau negyddol hyn a disgwyliadau isel ar gyfer merched yn y pynciau hyn yn amharu ar eu gallu i gyflawni – Bygythiad Stereoteip yw’r enw am hyn. Yn wir, yn y rhan fwyaf o wledydd lle mae stereoteipiau seiliedig ar y ddau ryw yn gyffredin (fel y DU neu Dwrci), mae merched yn tangyflawni mewn mathemateg o gymharu â bechgyn. Ond mewn gwledydd sy’n cynnig cyfle ac adnoddau mwy cyfartal i ddynion a menywod (fel Gwlad yr Iâ, Sweden a Norwy), mae’r bwlch rhwng perfformiad y ddau ryw mewn pynciau STEM gryn dipyn yn llai.

Celwydd yw’r syniad bod ymennydd bechgyn a merched yn gweithio’n wahanol; yn enwedig o ran sut maen nhw’n prosesu gwybodaeth a lliw. Ffactorau personol sy’n gyfrifol am unrhyw wahaniaeth, ac mae rhagfarn am stereoteipiau yn effeithio ar ganfyddiad o allu’r plentyn. Ymhellach, mae’r ffactorau sy’n cyfrannu at y gwahaniaeth rhwng perfformiad bechgyn a merched mewn pynciau STEM yn deillio o stereoteipiau seiliedig ar ryw sy’n effeithio ar ganfyddiad merched o’u hunain, gan beri iddyn nhw amau eu gallu a thangyflawni.

Mae’r stereoteipiau hyn nid yn unig yn cadarnhau hen rolau’r ddau rhyw, megis “sefyllfaoedd domestig” a merched yn casáu gwyddoniaeth ond yn dwli ar alwedigaeth ofalgar meddygaeth, ond maen nhw’n cyfrannu hefyd at gymdeithas lle dyw merched ddim yn llwyddo am iddyn nhw gael eu haddysgu i beidio â llwyddo.

Beth allwn ni ei wneud?

Trwy fynd i’r afael ag anghydraddoldeb yn ein cymdeithas, byddwn yn creu amgylchedd i feithrin potensial i’r eithaf. Mae hyn yn cynnwys cyfyngu (neu ddileu) effaith stereoteipiau seiliedig ar ryw ar blant a sicrhau bod cyfle cyfartal yn rhywbeth y byddant yn ei weld yn gyson.

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