Gender equity and leadership in science and technology education

This study examined the confidence and attitudes of female students toward the technical subject areas using the action research model. For this project, the technical subject areas are limited to science and technology. The research investigated whether placing girls in leadership roles affected their beliefs and attitudes toward these subjects. The study participants were from two sixth grade science classes. Before beginning science PowerPoint group presentations, students completed questionnaires used to determine existing attitudes and beliefs. They were then divided into project groups and assigned group leaders, half of whom were female and the other half male. Post project questionnaires were administered to determine whether placement in leadership roles affected these attitudes and beliefs. In addition the researcher kept field notes of student behaviors during the course ofthe project. These notes, along with the teacher's journal, provided observational opportunities that would refute or support the fmdings of the pre and post-project questionnaires. Respondents were divided up into males, females, and female leaders. After discussing student responses this researcher highlighted observations that demonstrated these behaviors in the classroom. This action research project suggests that the assignment of leadership roles had an impact on confidence and attitudes in the technical subject areas of science and technology. But beyond the researcher's expectations, the positive impact of being assigned leadership roles seems to have had some affect on students of both sexes. Keywords: gender equity, leadership, technology, science, action research