Packaging Girls for STEM or STEM for Girls? A critique on the perceived crisis of increasing female representation in STEM education
Keywords:STEM education, girls/women, feminist critique, media analysis, and visual frame analysis
This paper presents a critical commentary regarding the intersections of STEM education, girls/women, and media to consider the ways in which media production narratives construct the problem of too few girls/women in STEM fields, its causes, and how to redress the problem. Employing examples from multiple media including Clip Art, television commercials, and popular film, the authors highlight how such media representations oversimplify and mask some of the larger, more intractable challenges of women achieving parity and equity in STEM. The authors conclude with a discussion of how the solution to better package STEM for girls/women is simply an illusion that covers the reality: that girls and women are packaged for STEM, with the focus on girls/women and making them marketable to STEM fields while simultaneously pretending that the barriers in STEM can be surmounted by afterschool programs, female mentors, and targeted advertisement. As a result, the institutional and structural inequities remain inadequately addressed.
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