Exemplary Practices: Engaging Girls in STEM

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According to the research, what works to engage and support girls in STEM? These publications present new research, or distill existing research, and provide it in user-friendly formats to inform programming, reference in presentations, and cite when writing proposals or seeking other types of program support.

These user-friendly publications present new research or distill existing research on what works to engage and support girls in STEM. They can be used to inform programming, reference in presentations, and cite when writing proposals or seeking other types of program support.

The SciGirls Strategies (2019) 
The SciGirls PBS television series, website, and outreach initiatives emphasize current research on strategies proven to increase girls’ engagement in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become SciGirls' foundation. The SciGirls Strategies summarize research-based strategies for engaging girls in STEM, including tips for putting these strategies to practice and references for additional information.

APEC Women in STEM (2016)
The APEC Women in STEM: A Framework for Dialogue, Learning, and Action report is endorsed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. This report provides a framework that organizes challenges and opportunities in engaging girls in STEM across four key issues: enabling environment; education; employment; and entrepreneurship. The report highlights emerging practices in the Asia-Pacific region in all four pillars and makes concrete recommendations on ways that stakeholders can work together to strengthen STEM education and related career pathways for women.

Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women's Success in Engineering and Computing (2015)
This research report, published by AAUW, asks why there are still so few women in the critical fields of engineering and computing -- and explains what we can do to make these fields open to and desirable for all employees. A PowerPoint presentation and fact sheet are also available. 

Girls in IT: The Facts (2013)
This report, sponsored by theNational Center for Women & Information Technology's K-12 Alliance, summarizes the existing literature on girls' participation in computing, including key barriers to girls' participation and promising practices for addressing these barriers.

Effective STEM Programs for Adolescent Girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned (2013)
This article, published in Afterschool Matters, describes three successful programs to engage adolescent girls in STEM: Techbridge, Girls Go Techbridge, and Access for Young Women. Effective strategies implemented by the programs include developing collaborations, creating an engaging and relevant curriculum, and inspiring career exploration.

Cascading Influences: Long-Term Impacts of Informal STEM Experiences for Girls (2013)
This report, by Dale McCreedy and Lynn D. Dierking, summarizes National Science Foundation-funded research that investigated whether girls-only, informal STEM experiences have long-term influences on young women's lives. The authors present key findings of the study, barriers to success that were identified, and recommendations for informal STEM educators. 

Girls, Equity and STEM in Informal Learning Settings: A Review of the Literature (2013)
This report, published by Girls RISEnet, summarizes current literature related to engaging girls in STEM in informal learning environments, including museums and science centers. Implications for practice and research are also discussed. 

Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2010)
This research report, published by AAUW, provides in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers that continue to block women’s participation and progress in STEM. The report also includes up to date statistics on girls' and women's achievement and participation in these areas and offers ideas for practitioners working to engage girls in STEM.

Evaluating Promising Practices in Informal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Girls (2008)
This research report, published by the Girl Scouts of the USA, identifies promising practices in informal STEM education for girls based on a review of relevant literature and a survey of current STEM programs for girls. The report also includes real world examples of these practices, provided by the girl-serving STEM programs included in the study.

Encouraging Girls in Math and Science (2007)
This IES (Institute of Education Sciences) Practice Guide, published by the U.S. Department of Education, presents evidence-based advice to practitioners working to encourage girls in mathematics and science. The Guide provides five recommendations for encouraging girls in mathematics and science, including the level of evidence to support each recommendation and guidance for carrying out each recommendation.

NGCP uses the following criteria to identify high-quality program models and resources. Practitioners are encouraged to use the criteria when reviewing and identifying potential program models and resources to use in their own programs.


Programs and resources should be:

  • Implemented in other geographic areas, communities, and situations.
  • Not dependent on access to a specific local resource such as a science museum, university, corporate headquarters, or geographic feature unless such resources can be widely found in other areas.
  • Provided/shared free or at very low cost. Ideally program information should be available online.
  • Appropriate to scale or replicate to serve increasing numbers of girls. Required tools should not limit scalability.

Programs and resources should include research and evaluation of the effectiveness, or alternately, be based upon established promising practices in informal STEM education for girls.

Evidence of Success

Programs and resources should have documented success/outcomes evidenced by participant, parent and/or staff evaluations and/or program evaluation data.


Though programs and resources designed for boys or all youth are not automatically excluded, programs/resources should have a clear focus on serving or attracting girls and methodology based on promising practices for educating girls in STEM disciplines.

The following webinars present exemplary practices, program models, and resources for engaging girls in STEM. The webinars recordings and slides are available for reviewing. 

Resources for Afterschool Programs: Using the IF/THEN® Collection for Programming
Hear about new activities designed to engage youth in conversations about gender equity, representation, and STEM identity in this webinar recording.

SciGirls Strategies: How to Engage Girls in STEM
In this live stream recording, SciGirls staff explain strategies that instill confidence and persistence, and motivate girls to develop a STEM identity.



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