Academic journal article International Education Studies

Tackling Inhibitions to Careers in Science and Technology through Differentiated Mentoring Approach

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Tackling Inhibitions to Careers in Science and Technology through Differentiated Mentoring Approach

Article excerpt

Abstract

Encouraging women to go into Science and Technology (S&T) careers should start with the young girls. In developing countries, such as Nigeria, girls experience challenges in studying science and technological subjects and pursuing careers in these professions. The study identifies factors that inhibit Nigerian girls from undertaking careers in S&T. A sample of 228 Nigerian Senior Secondary School girls was used for the study. A "Female Students Science and Technology Inhibitions Questionnaire" (FSSTIQ) was used to elicit responses from the girls on conceptual, psychological and physical inhibitions to their studying S&T subjects. Percentages, mean and standard deviation were used to describe the data obtained. The results reveal that the major conceptual, psychological and physical problems the girls encountered were mathematical concepts, perception of S&T subjects as being difficult, and inadequate time to study. A "Differentiated Mentoring" approach is recommended for engendering effective mentoring of school girls interested in pursuing science and technology careers.

Keywords: science, technology, conceptual inhibitions, psychological inhibitions, physical inhibitions, differentiated mentoring

1. Introduction

1.1 Gender Differences in the Choice of Science and Technology

For any nation striving for economic development the inclusion of the women folk in all spheres of the economy, including S&T is an imperative. The average Nigerian school girl may be willing to embrace science and technology subjects, but due to some inhibiting factors, she is not able to pursue these subjects to conclusion. In Nigeria, as is in most nations of the world, gender differences affect choice of discipline. These differences tend to magnify at higher educational levels. Generally, women are overrepresented in education and health, equally represented in the social sciences, business and law; and underrepresented in engineering, manufacturing, construction and sciences (UNICEF, 2008). It is necessary that nations' and concerned groups should attend to these gender-based differences by putting in place strategies to tackle them. The women folk must be fully involved and participate in development in all fields; for the rapid socio-economic development of a nation has been observed to depend on the caliber of women and their education (Schultz, 2002).

Inhibitions to careers in S&T originate from problems experienced by the girls in pursuing S&T at the Secondary School level. These may be as a result of conceptual problems of difficulties in understanding the concepts in S&T subjects. For instance, girls are found to outperform boys in language skills, while boys have a little advantage over girls in Mathematics (UNIGEI, 2008). These differences in performance can eventually result in lower pass rates for girls. This places them at a disadvantage in their meeting the entry requirements for tertiary institutions; this will result in gender imbalance in the students pursuing S&T disciplines at the tertiary level of education.

1.2 Inhibitions to the Choice of Science and Technology among School Girls

Psychological factor such as girls' perception of the subject area, parental and societal attitudes to girls pursuing S&T disciplines can also inhibit their progress in S&T subjects. Low female enrolment in Science and Technology in Nigerian higher institutions of learning has been attributed to stereotyping, "girls have been brain washed into believing that they are not good in science" (Ker, Ekoja, & Anejo, 2010, p. 77). Poverty and cultural practices such as early marriage, parental and societal perceptions of the roles of women are predominant in Nigeria as in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. These may emerge as inhibitions to girls pursuing and staying in S&T careers.

Physical factors, that is, factors that have to do with human activities may also contribute to girls' inability to cope with the demands of S&T disciplines. …

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