Investigating the differences between girls and boys regarding the factors of frustration, boredom and insecurity they experience during science lessons

Claas Wegner, Friederike Strehlke, Phillip Weber


Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are subjects comprising knowledge whose schooling is essential for every country striving after long-term economic success. Despite the already existing shortage of skilled labour within the mathematic-technical-scientific professional field, men still dominate the respective subjects and jobs. The loss of female talent as a consequence of insufficient support is inexcusable from both an economic and social point of view. This is why affirmative action should be taken during schooling years in order to prevent girls from turning their backs on STEM subjects. Bielefeld University’s coeducational science project ‘Kolumbus-Kids’ is a programme to support gifted students in general, and especially girls. This article presents both the project and a recent study investigating how girls show differences from boys when it comes to experiencing frustration, boredom and insecurity during science lessons. These emotions highly influence a person’s activation, interest and motivation and are the point of intersection for cognitive processes which makes it important to deal with them sensitively. On the basis of theoretical background information on gender related differences, the project is designed to support gifted children and girls when it comes to STEM subjects. As found in this article, the underrepresentation of women in STEM-related university classes is a problem that has to be solved not only because of the skilled labour shortage. The study shows that specifically designed tutoring projects like ‘Kolumbus-Kids’ contribute highly to this solution. They are able to ignite and keep the interest in STEM-related subjects alive and they also lower frustration, boredom and insecurity in the same regard. One of the most important prerequisites for success is to know the girls’ interests and what the possible problems are in order to better support them.


STEM subjects, science project, coeducation, gender differences

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