- Women’s history is not well-represented in U.S. state history standards, and the gap is likely appearing in classroom lessons, too, according to a new report from the National Women’s History Museum.
- The report highlights that few women who have achieved excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, are noted in history classes. Instead, women’s contributions in domestic roles are “overwhelmingly” emphasized says the report.
- If women’s history and experiences aren't represented in textbooks, then teachers and others should focus on working women’s contributions into classrooms in other ways, says the museum.
As with any underrepresented group, seeing oneself in a variety of fields is crucial — especially for children. Role models give students something to aspire to when they imagine their future careers. Closing the gap in STEM fields and diversifying the population in these roles, is a top priority in education. Women are more than half of all educated workers — but just 25% of those working in STEM fields, according to data from the Economic and Statistics Administration.
Curriculum designers can help young girls and students of color by giving them guideposts and materials that highlight contributions from people like themselves. Studies show that having black teachers in the classroom lowers the chances that black students will drop out. That representation can also be extended to textbooks and other curriculum materials.
The National Women’s History Museum is developing curriculum resources to better support educators in weaving women and their contributions into classrooms. In the meantime, its site is a trove of women’s history materials with biographies, timeline posters and lesson plans that can be integrated into classrooms now.