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Programming sessions for girls aged 12 and over and women with the Codelle Association at the Planétarium
Photo: Space for Life
Programming sessions for girls aged 12 and over and women with the Codelle Association at the Planétarium
  • Programming sessions for girls aged 12 and over and women with the Codelle Association at the Planétarium
  • Programming sessions for girls aged 12 and over and women with the Codelle Association at the Planétarium
  • Learning coding for all via the Aldébaran activity at the Planétarium

Under-representation of girls and women in STEM

The under-representation of girls and women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is striking, even in so-called “developed” societies. Thus, the alarming figures on the under-representation of women in this field in OECD countries seem to be a mountain to climb for Canada (20%) and Québec (17%). To study this inequality, the Planétarium first suggests to raise awareness, through an exhibition (Women of impact) or a diversity, equity and inclusion committee, to build a research plan with key players in university research and act by coming up with solutions (Lego © programming activities and coding learning workshops reserved for girls with the CODELLE Association).

Girls and coding : Effect of female-only and mixed groups on the feeling of self-efficacy for girls aged 10-14

UQAM's Équipe de recherche en éducation scientifique et technologique (EREST) is partnering with the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan as part of the programming and robotics workshop named "The Aldebaran Project" in order to conduct research on the under-representation of girls and women in STEM.

This research aims to measure the feeling of self-efficacy variation of girls participating in the workshop according to whether they are part of female-only or mixed teams. Our research hypothesis is that the presence of boys in a mixed team reduces the increase in the girls' feeling of self-efficacy, while girls participating in female-only teams will see it increase more significantly.

To put our hypothesis to the test, we developed and tested a feeling of self-efficacy questionnaire during the summer of 2019 (FSEQ, Cronbach's Alpha = .935), which will be given to participants immediately before the workshop starts, then again immediately after. The pre-test and post-test questionnaires are identical (each holds eleven questions with Likert scale from 1 to 7) and require approximately five minutes to complete. In addition to the eleven self-efficacy questions, the post-test also holds a few demographic questions : gender, education level, language spoken at home, prior programming and robotics experience, as well as a general appreciation of the Planétarium workshop. The information and consent form, which must be completed by the parents of underage participants, asks for the postal code of the child's main residence as well as the parents' level of education, data that will allow us to calculate a socioeconomic background index for each child.

The target sample is 210 questionnaires completed by girls and 210 by boys, for a total of 420. This sample size was determined from a predictive analysis of power. Such a convenience sample will allow us to verify our initial hypothesis concerning girls, but also to study the effect of the workshop on boys' feeling of self-efficacy depending on whether they were part of boys-only or mixed teams. This estimate of the required number of completed questionnaires is more than 110, which is the minimum necessary to carry out the other planned analyzes (Cronbach's Alpha and Principal Component Analysis), namely approximately ten times the number of the questionnaire's statements (11 questions).

The WomenInSTEM research team at the Planétarium

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