07 SES 07 A, Innovative Global Projects
By implementing strategies such as the Lisbon Agenda (2000 - 2010) and Europe 2020 (2010-2020), the European Union explicitly puts science education at the heart of economical development, and stresses scientific excellency as a means to economic growth. Social justice is an important stake for these strategies, as women and minorities are underrepresented in science courses and careers.
This phenomenon has been documented and described using the “leaky pipeline” metaphor (Blickenstaff, 2005), and although this appellation deserves to be discussed (Cannady, 2014), it is useful to depict the way women and some minorities rarely reach positions of responsibility in science. This continues to be true in France, for instance, where merely 13 % of university professors of mathematics are women (Ministry of Higher-Education and Research, 2015). Women, and students from the working classes or ethnic minorities are indeed particularly marginalized in science in France, where social equity is far below OECD average and has been degrading between 2003 and 2016 (OECD, 2015).
In this context, France has aimed to revalorize its science courses and careers in order to make them more attractive and to foster greater inclusion and diversity. In schools, this concern for social justice is reflected in the implementation of projects to promote equality within science. This paper aims to account for one of these projects in order to analyze the effects it can have for students and teachers - in other words, can social justice be taught?
Our study focuses on a French program we anonymise as the “Science, Aspirations and Equality Project” (SAEP). SAEP aims to follow a cohort of about one hundred students for four years, from 4th to 7th grade, by involving them in weekly science workshops, in order to foster confidence and interest in science in young girls and boys from the working class. Most of these students are also from minority ethnic backgrounds (Black African, Arab). These workshops are led by science teachers and science mediators from an organisation specializing in science and social justice.
By interviewing students at the beginning and at the end of the program and by observing what went on during the workshops, we tried to assess the effects of SAEP, and to reflect on social justice education.
Archer, L., & DeWitt, J. (2016). Understanding Young People’s Science Aspirations: How students form ideas about “becoming a scientist.” Routledge. Archer, L., & Moote, J. (Eds.). (2016). ASPIRES 2: Project Spotlight. Year 11 Students’ Views of Careers Education and Work Experience. London: King’s College London. Retrieved from www.kcl.ac.uk/aspires Archer, L., Osborne, J., DeWitt, J., Dillon, J., Wong, B., & Willis, B. (Eds.). (2013). ASPIRES: young people’s science and career aspirations, age 10-14. London: King’s College London. Retrieved from http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/education/research/aspires/ASPIRES-final-report-December-2013.pdf Blickenstaff, J. C. (2005). Women and science careers: leaky pipeline or gender filter? Gender and Education, 17(4), 369–386. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540250500145072 Bourdieu, P. (1979). La Distinction. Critique sociale du jugement. (“Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste”) Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Cannady, M. A., Greenwald, E., & Harris, K. N. (2014). Problematizing the STEM Pipeline Metaphor: Is the STEM Pipeline Metaphor Serving Our Students and the STEM Workforce? Science Education, 98(3), 443–460. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21108 De Rudder, V., Poiret, C., & Vourc’h, F. (2000). L’inégalité raciste : L’universalité républicaine à l’épreuve. (“Racial inequality: Republican Universality to the Test”) Paris: Presses universitaires de France. Lépinard, É., & Bereni, L. (2004). La parité ou le mythe d’une exception française. (“Parity or the Myth of a French Exception”) Pouvoirs, (111), 73–85. OECD. (2016), PISA 2015 Results in Focus, OECD Publishing, Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf Passeron, J.-C., & Bourdieu, P. (1970). La Reproduction. Éléments pour une théorie du système d’enseignement. (“ Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture”) Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit. Ministry of Higher-Education and Research, Directorate-General for Human Ressources, analysed by « Women & maths » (Femmes & maths), Retrieved from http://www.femmes-et-maths.fr/?page_id=1504, 2015
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