2. Employ the concept of growth mindset when advising your girls in STEM.
Students who encounter obstacles in math class are likely to experience math anxiety if proper guidance is not provided. Renowned psychologist Carol Dweck identified two types of teaching mindsets that can instill value in girls in STEM or destroy confidence in the classroom. A fixed mindset emphasizes limits on intelligence and ability. Rather than seeking improvement through practice and perseverance, educators who use speech, such as “Not everyone is good at math” or “You tried your best” are teaching students to accept their limitations and not overcome challenges.
By employing a growth mindset, educators can instill in female students a sense that they are able to overcome limitations if they push themselves to rise above the obstacle. Rather than teaching girls in STEM to accept limitations, a growth mindset reveals that beyond a particular hurdle lies mastery and excellence that can be achieved through hard work. Dweck notes clever ways to verbalize encouragement through a growth mindset by saying, “When you learn how to do a new kind of problem, it grows your math brain” or “If you catch yourself saying, ‘I’m not a math person,’ just add the word ‘yet’ to the end of that sentence.”