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Rewriting the Story of Girls’ Education in STEM: Past Through Present

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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Is the story of American girls’ and women’s access to science and math education a direct path from exclusion to inclusion? What does equity for girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) look like, and how do we get there? Pairing a historian and educational researcher, this event will take you from the 1800s through the present, including surprising histories, continuing challenges, and current strategies. This event is co-presented by the Wagner Free Institute of Science and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.

Kim Tolley, Ed.D., Professor in the School of Education at Notre Dame de Namur University and author of The Science Education of American Girls: A Historical Perspective (2003), will show how contrary to popular belief, the history of science education reveals periods of increased access and opportunity as well as periods of backlash and retrenchment. During the early nineteenth century, more girls than boys studied science in many secondary schools. By the 1930s this trend had reversed, largely in response to a backlash against female enrollment in higher mathematics courses. Not until the women's movement of the 1960s did girls begin returning to science and mathematics course in increasing numbers.

Natalie King, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at Georgia State University and founder of I AM STEM, will explore how we can engage girls of color in STEM learning through civic leadership, activism, and intergenerational relationships. She will provide examples of community-based initiatives that encourage youth activism and share how we can create spaces where deficit assumptions about girls of color are replaced with affirming narratives. Dr. King challenges the capitalistic agenda for encouraging girls’ involvement in STEM and reframes STEM as a mechanism to promote sisterhood and social justice. She encourages action on both the micro and macro levels to improve the plight of women and girls in STEM.

After their presentations, Drs. Tolley and King will facilitate an interactive conversation with attendees exploring how to rewrite the pervasive narrative of girls and women in STEM. Visit the Consortium website after the event for commentary by other experts in the field and online discussion. This event will take place in the 19th-century lecture hall of the Wagner Free Institute of Science, itself a setting for innovative public science education for over 150 years.

Dr. Kim Tolley (L) and Dr. Natalie King (R)

Dr. Kim Tolley (L) and Dr. Natalie King (R)

Main Image information: Far left: "Astronomy," in Thomas Smith, Scientific Library (New York, 1815). Courtesy American Antiquarian Society. Second Left: I AM STEM Camp students looking in microscopes at a workshop about animal blood and detecting diseases in animals. Second right: girl drawing a plant, in Maria Edgeworth, Early Lessons, vol. 1, 1827. Courtesy American Antiquarian Society. Right: A student at the Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy in Atlanta, GA helps facilitate a workshop on how to make lip balm using the honey that the students harvested from their Honey Bee Learning Center. Photo by Natalie King.


About the Speakers:

Kim Tolley, Ed.D. is a historian of education and Professor at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU). She received her doctorate from U.C. Berkeley in 1996. She is the author of Heading South to Teach: The World of Susan Nye Hutchison, 1815-1845 (2015) and The Science Education of American Girls: A Historical Perspective (2003), which the Association of College and Research Libraries designated an Outstanding Academic Title. She is co-editor (with Nancy Beadie) of Chartered Schools: Two Hundred Years of Independent Academies in the United States, 1727 – 1925 (2002) and editor of Transformations in Schooling: Comparative and Historical Perspectives (2007) and Professors in the Gig Economy: Unionizing Adjunct Faculty in America (2018). She has served as the President of the History of Education Society (2018), as Program Chair for Division F-History and Historiography of AERA (2008) and as Education Network Representative for the Social Science History Association (SSHA). Her current research interests include women and science, education and slavery, and the response to school vaccination requirements in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Natalie S. King, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of science education in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at Georgia State University. Her scholarly work focuses on advancing Black girls in STEM education, community-based youth programs, and the role of curriculum in fostering equity in science teaching and learning. Dr. King is passionate about preparing students to enter careers within the STEM disciplines and founded I AM STEM— an informal STEM program that provides a comprehensive curriculum embracing students’ cultural experiences while preparing them to become productive and critically-conscious citizens. Dr. King partners with businesses, organizations, and institutions to provide children with access to comprehensive academic summer enrichment programs. She is particularly interested in dismantling divisive walls and centering faith-based institutions as an underutilized resource in the community. Dr. King offers trainings and curricular support so that local organizations can deliver high-quality and affordable STEM programs to develop this generation’s scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and mathematicians. Her work is published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Journal of Multicultural Affairs, The Science Teacher, Middle Grades Research Journal, Teaching and Teacher Education, and the Urban Education Research and Policy Annuals.



FAQs

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

The Wagner Free Institute of Science is a few blocks from the Cecil B. Moore stop on the Broad Street Line and several SEPTA bus routes. Street parking is available around the museum.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Contact Coryn Wolk, Communications and Program Coordinator at the Wagner at corynw@wagnerfreeinstitute.org or (215) 763-6529 x24.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

It it is not necessary to bring your printed ticket to the event.

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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