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Posted: November 19, 2009
Start technology education young, EU-funded team recommends
(Nanowerk News) Including technology in the curriculum in early childhood could help to raise the interest of both girls and boys in science and technology, according to recently published, EU-funded research.
The study, published in the Journal of Technology and Design Education, was supported by the EU-funded UPDATE ('Understanding and providing a developmental approach to technology education') project, which is funded with around EUR 900 000 under the 'Science and Society' activity area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The UPDATE team comprises 16 partners in 11 countries.
The researchers suggest that by making better use of creative play with young children, teachers will be able to raise the level of interest in technology for both sexes.
The authors concluded that improving the quality of technology education and providing it at a young age could further the realisation of equality within education systems as well as whole societies.
A second article published in the same journal examines the gender roles produced by the school systems in Finland and Germany.
It concludes that teachers' lack of confidence that they can provide high-quality education in science and technology is contributing to the problem. The authors of the article say that one solution is to make science and technology a more integral part of the training of elementary school teachers.
The latest surveys on the academic performance of pupils in the early years of education show that girls are now increasingly obtaining good results in subjects traditionally considered male strongholds such as science, technology and mathematics. Unfortunately this is not reflected in later life by the number of women working in science and technology. Men still seem to be more attracted to a career in these areas than women.
According to the UPDATE project coordinator, Professor Päivi Fadjukoff from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, the project aspires to defeat the established gender barriers in the science and technology fields by discovering more efficient methods of technology education.