The world needs more female scientists, but few female youth are adequately socialized into the field of science early on. Although young children don't have a strong sense of what it means to pursue a career, young girls need to know that being a princess is not a real job! Female youth are intelligent, passionate, thoughtful humans capable of making the world a better place through science, but they need extra encouragement to develop--and sustain--an interest in the scientific enterprise.
When youth participate in scientific practices at an early age, they begin to develop scientific identities and habits of mind. Dirt Girls provides young women with meaningful opportunities to engage with nature, interact with peers, and learn from mentors. Gardening empowers these young women to develop growth mindsets while also increasing their agency, confidence, and self-efficacy. Girls begin to see themselves as scientists who can have a positive impact in their communities and the world.
The underrepresentation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) can have deleterious effects on the applicability of science for women in society. Put simply, when women don't "do" science, science doesn't "work" for them. Women are more likely to consider a STEM-related career tomorrow when they are engaged solving problems of today in gender-specific ways. Dirt Girls inspires young women and girls to become future scientists, thus aiming to close the gender gap in STEM.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
Blog Post: Dirt Girls to the Rescue
Blog Post: Return of the Dirt Girls
Blog Post: After School Programs
Presentation: Gender Equity and Empowerment