Improving Gender Balance. Reflections on the impact of interventions in schools
The Institute of Physics Improving Gender Balance (IGB) project was launched in 2014, as part of the Stimulating Physics Network, funded by the Department for Education. It worked with 20 schools in total and trialed school interventions separately that aimed to:
a) improve the confidence and resilience of girls
b) improve the experience of girls in the physics classroom
c) enable students and staff to understand and address the impact of unconscious bias and gender stereotyping
A second project, funded buy the Drayson Foundation, investigated the cumulative impact of these interventions. This report sets out the forms those interventions took, the results they gave and recommendations on how to improve gender balance in schools based on what was learned.
We recommend that schools combine the following in a blended approach.
- Appoint a gender champion, someone senior in the leadership team who is able to drive change within the school
- Analyse progression data by gender for different subjects and discuss what might be driving any gendered patterns
- Train teachers to understand unconscious bias, how the experiences of girls and boys may differ because of it and what they can do to manage that impact
- Equip teachers to deal with sexist bullying and language
- Raise students' awareness and engagement of the gender stereotypes they face and engage them in addressing them
- Review the options process:look at the options information and presentations through a gender lens and equip students to engage critically with the process
- Consider project-led science clubs that encourage a better gender balance