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Peer pressure is a force in all of our lives, and that's especially so for school-aged kids. It's been shown that the middle school years are when girls tend to start turning away from math and science. Psychology researcher Nilanjana Dasgupta from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is starting to investigate the factors contributing into that trend.
Dasgupta recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation which she will use to craft studies to examine both what keeps girls and minorities in, and what pulls them out of STEM studies. She plans to look at the impact of single-sex versus co-ed classrooms, and how peer pressure impacts kids as well.
Once she has accumulated that data, Dasqupta's plan is to develop concrete tools and lesson plans that can be used to improve retention of girls in math and science tracks.