Getting to the root of gender imbalance in STEM fields

An engineering instructor thinks females get turned off science in high school due to the way they’re taught

Kathy Tarnai-Lokhorst, Camosun College Mechanical Engineering Technology instructor, is committed to increasing the number of women in engineering. She's photographed teaching students in Victoria, B.C., Thursday, October 29, 2015. (Photograph by Chad Hipolito)

Important lesson: Kathy Tarnai-Lokhorst hopes practice, not theory, will become the norm  (Photograph by Chad Hipolito)

Kathy Tarnai-Lokhorst is the only female instructor in her engineering department at Camosun College in Victoria, and she is on a quest to find out why. As part of her doctoral studies at Royal Roads University, she is studying the causes of—and solutions to—the shortage of women in engineering.

The idea began at her own school, where there are only two women in her 50-strong class. But Tarnai-Lokhorst found that among all Camosun students, nearly half of those who studied physics in high school, an elective course, were female. “Wow, really?” she says. “So where are they going?” The answer: business and undeclared majors. “I started to think about whether or not it was the way we teach,” she says.

Tarnai-Lokhorst is surveying high school students in the Victoria area about their attitudes toward science before and after they are exposed to teaching that emphasizes practice over theory, coursework she developed based on her teaching methods. “We’re going to take a problem and we’re going to have students design a solution and test it, the way engineers do when you work in the field,” Tarnai-Lokhorst says.

Research began last year and, this year, Tarnai-Lokhorst’s efforts were recognized by Engineers Canada, which awarded her the TD Insurance Meloche Monnex scholarship, worth $7,500. Tarnai-Lokhorst expects to complete her research in February 2018 and says she hopes her practical teaching will help shape policy. “I’m creating this activity that will, I hope, become embedded in the British Columbia science curriculum,” she says.


Getting to the root of gender imbalance in STEM fields

  1. I’m thinking women are the best leaders until the age of synthetic pandemics, and then you’d prefer male leaders to fly air-strikes against bioterrorists. I’m learning how propaganda works.
    Stalin had 6 times the spies as the USA did, because of idealism. He got the nuke and considered a 1st strike. That is illegal in our universe as it leads to AI. The USA after losing the bomb, went too left wing and now might market-force robots and synthetic biology and AI. I didn’t read a ranking of the best PMs ever in a 1999 book after reading the former War College head author call King tough on Hitler. It ranked Kind 1st when in fact he was the worst PM ever. He let spies into Canada that stole the A-Bomb as well as was a Chamberlain against Hitler. The USA was too weak to 1st strike Stalin because of market forces. Hoover said to run a nation like a mine: when your profit margin or surplus is run out, that is the end of spending…
    I’m learning that engineering without a utilitarian purpose is evil is it inevitably turns into a WMD. Nobel Prizes are evil. Science spending not devoted ethically is evil. I learning a correct University curriculum and ranking of such, mostly encompasses four fields: 1) Ethics, especially Utilitarianism. 2) Mental illness treatment, diagnostic technology moreso than psychiatry. 3) The offshoots of catastrophic risk analysis. 4) Communications technology.
    Canada is a leader. RIM runs a retreat that probably discuses #3; probably insurance can cost public anti-pandemic spending as well as when to turn off drone R+D (now as two weeks of rust belt manufacturing can conquer the world with drones and chemic WMDs). Again, RIM gave back to their community as QCs are bad, but Q.Encryption might be a way to keep watch of the robots. #4 is three times as important as 5 and 6 combined.
    When it comes to your rankings, a library’s collection is more important than is a year’s purchasing budget. I’d guess angel funding in research park around the university, maybe that is only 50% university-related, is more important than is any employment metric for many fields. I listened this morning to a CBC programme that was nothing but buzzwords about how the future of education is digital. I think the future is to recognize propaganda and to care about eachother.
    3D Printing papers online are turning into another libertopian pipe-dream. Wpg didn’t take out Stalin because of King’s lack of Keynesian budgeting (not until 1939). Maclean’s called the least racist city in N.America (because of mental health) the most racist. A yr ago J.Kirby exorted that a 0.03C warming from burning all the tar, was minor. To me it costs from $1-10T as it is 1/100th of the way to 3C. Macleans claimed a litre/km/yr pipeline oil spill is minor. Yet, what is it, one litre pollutes 160000x as much water?! This makes the whole world end in decades I think. And a nanotech filter for drinking water might be plastic if here is any oil still handy. I recognize propaganda. EEGs aren’t yet ready to treat mental illness, but I’ve got an idea to tell who is speaking hate. It won’t be Hillary.

  2. Engineers are the core of society and are very pragmatic. You either measure up to the standard or you don’t; there is no in between and there should not be any in between. I have many colleges both male and (to a lessor degree) female. They either stand up to the mark or not. If they do not stand up to the mark, they do not belong in the profession – people can die as a consequence. This said I am the father of four, two males and two females. I don’t care what they do but whatever they do, it will not negatively impact public safety

  3. Could it be partially to a difference in gender?

    There are more males in jail, there are more homeless males, there are more males that commit suicide, traffic accidents, etc. Is that a result of sexism, or way taught?

    Tends to be more standard deviation among males compared to females in tests on things like math even though averages are same. More standard deviation means more at top and bottom of class.

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