Free Essay on The Gender Subjects' Attitudes and Perception Towards Physics

Published: 2023-07-10
Free Essay on The Gender Subjects' Attitudes and Perception Towards Physics
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Learning Gender Physics Stereotypes Essays by pagecount
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 962 words
9 min read

Physics is one of the science subjects offered at the Secondary school level. Among the STEM disciplines- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, the Physics subject is widely regarded as the building block for a wide range of careers leading into these STEM fields. Consequently, taking the issue in secondary schools is the foundation to achieving a prosperous career in Physics.

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According to (2020), girls are under-represented in physics at the secondary level. This low representation in physics can have repercussions that go beyond the secondary education level. Despite an increasing number of females graduating with a bachelor's degree in physics, the percentage of women taking Physics courses has remained the same. In 2013, the number of girls in secondary school physics students represented 46%, whereas, in 2017, women earned 20% of physics doctorates and 21% of physics-bachelor's degrees ((Marie & Ivie, 2019). These statistics indicate that women, in general, have a negative attitude towards Physics, a perception that begins in the early career development process, mainly at the secondary school level.

Several factors have contributed to secondary girl students having a negative attitude toward Physics. Some of these factors are myths and stereotypes surrounding the subject, whereas some reasons are factors relating to the surrounding environment, mostly at school. These factors can be broadly put into two categories:

  • Perceptions/myths and stereotypes
  • Environmental factors
  • Perceptions and Stereotypes

These are incredibly generalized beliefs concerning the performance of girls in physics. A lot of these beliefs exist on the involvement of girls in the physics subject, especially at the secondary school level. The main three factors which have the most substantial effect on the negativity of girls towards physics is that girls think that the subject leads to various advantages for boys such as employment prospects than for them, their beliefs in their ability, and their perceptions of lessons in the topic (Sheldrake et al., 2017).

One of the main contributing factors in this category is a self-belief by girls that they are less capabloPhysics self-belief is lower than boys. The girls perceive to be unequal to boys in that they argue that boys receive more backing and support from teachers than they do. The ability of a student is reflectebthstus'confidence, choices, and intentions in subjects (Wang et al. 2013). Girls classify themselves as to be having a low self-belief when it comes to sciences, and they believe that physics is too hard for them, and therefore not the right subject for them. The belief that Physics is a subject for boys and not for girls is a kind of unconscious bias from society. Even if a girl student is competent, the student will ultimately think that the physics subject is not for her. These culturally engrained stereotypes are discouraging girls from learning physics at an early age.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors affecting the perception or attitudes of girls towards physics include classroom-related factors and family-related issues where parents and relatives discourage students from taking physics at the secondary level. One of the main influencing factors is the teacher-student relationship, which is typically how supportive a student will find their physics teacher. According to (2020), differences in teaching and school culture significantly determine whether students will continue their physics education. The number of girls who previously studied in a particular school can encourage or discourage future trends of girls studying in that school. A school with a relatively significant number of students who excelled in the field of physics is more likely to see more students studying the subject in the future.

According to Jamieson (2018), physics is one of the disciplines with a considerable shortage of teachers. A deficit in teachers can imply that a student is less likely to be attended to, especially for those with moderate understanding capabilities; this pushes girl students away from taking physics at the secondary level.

Another discouraging factor is childhood discrimination. Students who encounter discrimination at an early ages in school are more likely to keep a distance from other students, teachers, and the subject they are bullied (Jamieson, 2018). Discrimination in schools targeting girls is said to reduce their interest in the subject they are bullied. A student who is bullied more is at a higher risk of low engagement and achievement in the field they experiencing the bully (Marie & Ivie, 2019). If a student is bullied into being having poor drawings, for example, that student ends up hating the subject involving the diagrams. This has an adverse effect when a student is at the secondary level since a majority of them are experiencing adolescence issues, and are most affected by what people perceive to be the right thing at that level.

Encouraging girls to study Physics, parents, and teachers, ensuring girls take part in extra-curricular science activities, and rewarding those who show exceptional efforts is vital for girls. Also, the stereotypes surrounding the Physics subject need to be challenged by both students and teachers. The attitude that Physics is not for girls should be discouraged among teachers and students.


Jamieson, V., 2018. Women In PhysicsWhThere's A Problem And How We Can Solve It. [online] New Scientist. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 May 2020].

Marie, A., and Ivie, R., 2019. Women In Physics And Astronomy, 2019. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 6 May 2020].

Sheldrake, R., Mujtaba, T. and ReissM.2017Stus' Changing Attitudes and Aspirations Towards Physics During Secondary School. Research in Science Education, 49(6), pp.1809-1834. doi: 10.1007/s11165-017-9676-5 2020. Girls In Physics: Research Evidence | STEM. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 6 May 2020].

Wang, M., Eccles, J., and Kenny, S., 2013. Not lack of ability but more choice: Individual and gender differences in the choice of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Psychological Science, 24(5), pp.770-775. doi: 10.1177/0956797612458937

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