Science education has strongly being misconceived to be difficult, meant for boys only hence the association with masculinity. This has resulted to the churning out of few female scientists at higher institutions of learning as compared to the majority who are male. A few girls excelling in sciences are also seen as possessing special and unique abilities, and perhaps carrying male genes in them.
Science subjects like mathematics, physics, and chemistry are seen to be impassable for female students. Thus, offering them at A-level is assumed to be a big risk because it is widely believed that they are destined for failure before even sitting for examinations. The community perceptions have driven many girls to drop or fail science subjects. Rebecca Aguta a Senior 4 student at St. Catherine S.S Lira, confessed that due to poor performance in sciences, her father who is a teacher in Alebtong district threatened to stop paying her school fees in favor of her brothers who were performing well. She testifies, “I used to cry to persuade my parents to pay my school fees.”
Today, she attributes her stay in school, current love and improved performance in Science Subjects to the implementation of the STEM Project in their school. The STEM activities, that emphasize practical teaching and learning, gender responsive language and the friendly approach by teachers made her develop a positive attitude in STEM subjects. She now performs better than her brothers in sciences to whom her father previously had a lot of hope in. “Dad is now happy with my performance and is encouraging me to do sciences at A-level which I am ready to.” She adds.
Aguta is just one of the many girls who are currently and confidently encouraging peers to take up science subjects as they are easy and passable. She has converted most of them and they now love sciences at the expense of arts subjects. She says, “Today many girls have abandoned humanity courses to do sciences just because the community stereotypes are being dealt with in the STEM project – by the STEM club.”
The same view was shared by Atimango Mercy who joined YY.Okot Memorial College with the mindset that science subjects are difficult and can never be done by girls. She says, this perception haunted her and while in Senior.1, all her results in sciences were very poor. When the STEM project was introduced in their school while in Senior.2; her story changed drastically and whenever results were released at the end of the term, she would have a score of over 90% in mathematics – a subject that she previously found difficult.