Gender parity for girls increases in math and science | Local news

Girls in New Hampshire have made strides in recent years, especially in math and science, according to a new report, but there are still challenges that female students face far more than their male peers, especially poor mental health. and bullying, and enrollment in technical courses. education.

For black and Hispanic girls, and those who live in rural areas, these challenges are even more likely.

The new report, titled “The Status of Girls in New Hampshire 2021,” is the first of its kind and was released on Wednesday by the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, which publishes a similar report on women every two years. The report uses data from the New Hampshire Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, along with the Youth Risk Behavior Census and Survey, to assess five areas of girls’ well-being: education, economic security, health, safety and drug addiction.

The report is based on pre-pandemic data and does not reflect the impact of COVID-19 on New Hampshire girls.

“We know that girls – and boys – are multidimensional,” Kristin Smith, visiting associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, who co-authored the report, told an online panel discussion Wednesday. “We need more research to determine how these indicators connect, but in the meantime, we can use this report as a roadmap to determine where we need to focus our attention to further improve the lives of girls in our state. “

Math and science skills are similar between girls and boys in New Hampshire, with 47% of girls mastering math statewide, up from 48% of boys in 2019, and 39% of girls mastering science versus 38% of boys. But the report shows that as girls enter high school and college, they are less likely to pursue career paths in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), including secondary career and technical education programs. New Hampshire’s STEM Career Technical Education courses consist of 28 percent girls and 72 percent boys, while information technology courses contain 37 percent girls and 63 percent boys, according to department data. American Education.

“This is important, because research shows that when girls enter secondary and post-secondary education, they are systematically excluded from STEM fields,” said Dow Drukker, a researcher at the NH Women’s Foundation, which is the other co -author of the report. “Achieving gender parity in all technical vocational education programs is essential to provide equal opportunities for the future of girls. “

Smith said on Wednesday that increasing gender parity in math and science skills is a sign of significant achievement.

“This shows an idea of ​​breaking down barriers in education, as stereotypes about girls’ lack of math and science skills have been pushed back,” Smith said. “With this success in math and science in elementary and middle schools, girls will hopefully not hesitate to take an interest in these subjects and fields when they enter high school, university and on labor market. We know that bringing more women into STEM and plugging the leaky pipeline is one way to close the gender wage gap. Parity and competence are therefore the first step.

The report shows that girls in New Hampshire are much more likely to suffer from poor mental health than boys, especially girls living in the Winnipesaukee and Greater Sullivan areas. According to data from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 44% of girls felt depressed vs. 24% of boys, and 23% of girls were seriously considering suicide vs. 14% of boys.

“Keep in mind that this data is pre-pandemic, this is data from 2019, so I’m shivering a bit thinking about how that may have changed during the pandemic,” Smith said. “Those of us who have children, adolescents in our lives, we know how hard the pandemic has been on them.”

Mental health disparities are even greater for many girls of color in New Hampshire. The survey shows that 52% of Hispanic and Latin girls and 50% of black girls felt depressed, compared to 44% of white girls, and 31% of Hispanic, Latin and black girls were considering suicide compared to 22% of white girls.

Dr Marie Ramas, family doctor and medical director of the GateHouse Treatment Center in Nashua, told Wednesday’s roundtable that she believes those numbers, while already high, are still underestimated.

“There is a level of self-declaration that needs to be done with confidence,” Ramas said. “And for some populations, especially those who are historically excluded, this level of trust and security may not be widespread enough to truly share their main concerns. So the fact that there is a disparity, the fact that there is a difference, and that we can see it, we can only assume that it is magnified and underestimated.

The report also shows that New Hampshire girls experience bullying, sexual violence and intimate partner violence at disproportionately higher rates than boys, with 28% of girls being bullied compared to 19% of boys. Much of the bullying was happening online even before the pandemic for girls, with 27% of girls being cyberbullied, compared to just 13% of boys.

“Our children, isolated, are turning more to social media and the real impact of social media on the formation of his identity intrigues me right now,” said Ramas. “I would be really interested to have more information that highlights that and kind of digs into emotional abuse, toxic relationships and how people identify that in our time, social media, which can be a bit tricky. . “

Girls and boys in New Hampshire have similar rates of substance abuse, although race and ethnicity demographics show Hispanic and Latin girls are more likely to vape and use e-cigarettes than girls. white or black. The Winnipesaukee area had the highest rates of substance abuse among girls, with 36% of girls consuming alcohol and 41% vaping, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Although contraceptive use, including birth control pills and IUDs has increased among New Hampshire girls in recent years, corresponding to declining rates of teenage pregnancy, condom use has declined and there has had a 43 percent increase in chlamydia in girls since 2014, an STD that disproportionately affects women and girls.

Smith said the report is an indicator of areas, particularly mental health, bullying and violence, where New Hampshire girls need support and resources.

“Girls feel the expectations of society, we see it in the data – the pressure to do well in school, the expectations to lose weight, they use substances on par with boys,” Smith said. “So we need to respond to these numbers with more support and the right kinds of support in schools and our families and organizations that are highlighted in this report, in our churches and other support groups that we have. It is truly a wake-up call to which we collectively must respond.

About Margaret Shaw

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