Explanation Illustration Intervention
General Middle School High School Undergraduate
Myth: At the college level, changing the STEM curriculum runs the risk of watering down important "sink or swim" coursework.
Reality: The mentality of needing to "weed out" weaker students in college majors--especially in the more quantitative disciplines--disproportionately weeds out women. This is not necessarily because women are failing. Rather, women often perceive "Bs" as inadequate grades and drop out, while men with "Cs" will persist with the class. Effective mentoring and "bridge programs" that prepare students for challenging coursework can counteract this. Changing the curriculum often leads to better recruitment and retention of both women and men in STEM classrooms and majors. For example, having students work in pairs on programming in entry-level computer science and engineering (CSE) courses leads to greater retention of both men and women in CSE majors. In addition, given that many students (including men) have difficulty with spatial visualization and learning, coursework in this area has helped retain both women and men in engineering schools.