Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Pequeñas Aventureras (Little Adventurer Girls) –Education to close the language, science, and math gaps between girls and boys in early childhood

Hard to believe but true: from an early age, we tend to think that math and natural sciences are for white boys. This false belief has a strong impact on the hopes of little girls and young and adult women (for example, in Colombia, fewer women than men pursue a STEM degree) and black boys. The Pequeñas Aventureras program shows the benefits of conceiving and implementing right from preschool math and sciences teaching without gender stereotypes. This initiative is innovative because it creates spaces where boys and girls are guaranteed to reach their maximum potential free from any bias by way of a curriculum and novel tools adapted for children in the Colombian context.

Problematic

Race and gender stereotypes as well as sciences and math gaps during childhood affect future education decision and create deeper gaps in adult life, as shown by the low rates of women getting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) university degrees in Colombia and the low presence of women in in these fields – only one-third of the jobs. Although it is a well-established fact that preschool math and sciences competences are an important factor for the success of boys and girls later in their lives, few efforts are being made to close the gender gaps at this critical age for their development.

 

Solution

This program promotes math and sciences teaching and learning at preschool with a clear premise: that boys and girls of any race have the same potential to develop their abilities and succeed in these areas. To put this principle into practice, the program trains community mothers on the use of guides, tutorial videos, interactive signs, and computer games to teach boys and girls aged 4 to 5. By comparing math and science skills of participating girls and boys as well as the expectations and gender stereotypes of the children and the mothers and fathers in the community, some key conclusions can be drawn on the impact of this kind of interventions.

Evaluation and Impact

To assess the program’s impact, 661 community homes were randomly allocated to three groups: one group implemented the Pequeñas Aventureras program, the second group received text messages promoting equality as well as STEM issues concepts, and the third, control group did not participate in any program. Researchers have found that girls showed better math skills (0.14 DE). Although girls enjoyed STEM toys as much as boys, they tended to associate those toys less with their gender than boys did. This stereotype is even stronger among boys than girls. In addition, it was observed that girls whose parents believe that math is not for them have a lower preference for that subject. On the effect of the Pequeñas Aventureras program, preliminary results show that it helps raise interest for math and reduce the presence of stereotypes among instructors.

Basic data

Target population
Girls and Boys (3-5) years
Area
Cognitive development
Socio-emotional development
Institution
ICBF, Fundación Carvajal, BID, Sesame Workshop, IPA
Place
Colombia
Start date
State
Initial stage
Type of Intervention
Caregiver or teacher training
Delivery mode
Reminders through Applications / Text Messages
Group sessions