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8 Research Articles on Women and Girls

Women and girls have a unique experience of the world based on their biological sex. Gender discrimination and stereotypes influence their psychological and economic development, while fertility and childbearing present exclusive physiological opportunities and challenges. This collection of adapted research articles provides students with approachable, empirical evidence of research on women and girls. Engage students with standards-matched adaptations, introductory video content, comprehension questions, and vocabulary to further your lesson outcomes. Each adapted article also comes with additional suggestions for activities to enhance student understanding and make the class more exciting.

1. Why do some women deny gender discrimination?

Abstract: Women face discrimination across the world. They have fewer rights and opportunities (like education) than men, all because of their gender. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made this worse. But despite this, many people (including women) deny that gender discrimination exists. Even people who have experienced it personally! We wanted to find out why this is. We thought that perhaps it’s because denying discrimination makes the world seem fairer. This makes women happier. We carried out three studies, involving 20,000 participants from 23 countries altogether. We tested the hypothesis that denial of gender discrimination is related to better well-being in women. We found this to be true across the United States and worldwide. In fact, in countries where gender discrimination is worse, women were even more likely to deny it! Denial of discrimination helps women to cope, but it makes gender inequality worse.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available, as well as two different Ask-A-Scientist video interviews with the original researcher, Dr. Lexi Suppes.

  • Key terms: discrimination, inequality, psychology
  • Scientific figures: bar graph
  • Scientific methods: representative sampling, survey research

2. How do gender stereotypes impact girls’ interest in science?

Abstract: Has anyone ever said that you couldn’t or shouldn’t do something because of one of your traits? If so, you’ve probably been the victim of a stereotype. A stereotype is a set of shared beliefs based on a trait or the identity of a group. A common stereotype is that women are not as good at or interested in science as men. This can result in fewer women participating in the sciences. We wanted to know if and when these gender stereotypes about science affect children and adolescents. We also wanted to know if stereotypes cause girls to be less interested in and take part less in these fields. To find out, we conducted surveys and laboratory experiments. We found that very young students believed these gender stereotypes. Girls were less interested in participating in computer science and engineering if they believed the stereotypes. So, teachers and schools should try to generate interest in these fields at an early age.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available, as well as an Ask-A-Scientist video interview or podcast episode with the original researcher, Dr. Allison Master.

  • Key terms: discrimination, gender, inequality, psychology
  • Scientific figures: bar graph, line graph
  • Scientific methods: experiment, survey research

3. Why are women hunters important?

Abstract: Have you heard that women should make dinner for their family? Or that only men should work outside the home? Unfortunately, many people believe in these ideas about gender roles. It makes it hard to look at new situations without bias. For a long time, scientists have thought that in foraging societies, men are hunters and women are gatherers. We questioned these ideas. We investigated how often women take part in hunting, what they hunt, and how they hunt. We found that women do hunt intentionally in a lot of foraging societies. They sometimes hunt with different tools than men. We also found women are more flexible in whom they hunt with. They often take dogs and children with them. We can use this information to rethink our historical biases about the role of women in hunting.

This article is suitable for middle & high school students. We offer a blackboard video version of this article:

  • Key terms: archeology, gender, inequality
  • Scientific figure: map
  • Scientific methods: case study, meta-analysis, systemic review

4. How is heart disease different for women and men?

Abstract: Did you know that your sex can change the way your body responds to disease? We wanted to know how the female body responds to serious heart problems. To do this, we looked through previous studies on heart disease. We tracked how many people died in the 30 days after we knew their heart wasn’t working well. Did female patients die more than male patients? Unfortunately, we found that they did. We think this could be because a higher percentage of female patients had the most serious condition, heart failure, after a heart attack. Heart failure means your heart isn’t pumping enough blood. However, we don’t understand exactly why there’s a difference between the sexes. If we can work this out, then doctors may be able to provide better treatment for their patients.

This article is suitable for middle school students.

  • Key terms: medicine, sex
  • Scientific figure: bar graph
  • Scientific methods: data validation, systemic review

5. To be vaccinated or not: how does the Internet influence a pregnant woman’s decision?

Abstract: Vaccines protect us from infectious diseases and save millions of lives every year. Vaccination during pregnancy protects newborn babies as well. But how does online media influence a pregnant woman’s opinion about vaccination? Here, we examined the online media about two maternal vaccinations: whooping cough (pertussis), and the flu (influenza). The majority of the articles supported both vaccines. Most pertussis articles used real-life cases and focused on protecting the baby. The influenza articles focused on protecting the mother, or both the mother and the baby. Then, we surveyed pregnant women and health care providers. Their opinions were similar to those expressed in the articles. Our results may explain why more women are receiving pertussis vaccine compared to influenza.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students.

  • Key terms: immunity, microbiology, mother, pregnancy, social media, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: bar graph, data table
  • Scientific methods: survey research

6. How skilled are skilled birth attendants?

Abstract: Despite medical improvements, hundreds of thousands of women and millions of newborns die each year from childbirth-related complications. The United Nations has set goals to reduce the number of these deaths by the year 2030. The chances of survival go up when skilled medical helpers are there to assist with pregnancy and childbirth care, but what does it mean to be “skilled”? We decided to review the scientific literature to see if there was a clear definition of a skilled birth attendant (SBA) in low-and-middle-income countries. We discovered that there are a lot of differences between and within countries on the definition of skilled birth attendants, including requirements for education and training and the tasks they are qualified or able to perform.

This article is suitable for high school students.

  • Key terms: pregnancy
  • Scientific figure: data table
  • Scientific methods: data extrapolation, systematic review

7. How can we prevent cervical cancer in Mongolia?

Abstract: Have you ever heard of cervical cancer? It’s one of the most common forms of cancer among women. Most of the cases occur in countries with lower incomes and fewer resources. The leading cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV). There are several effective vaccines against HPV. But introducing them in the vaccination calendar could cost a lot. Would it be worth it? We used a mathematical model to see if HPV vaccination would be cost-effective in Mongolia. It helped us estimate the benefits and costs of introducing an HPV vaccine there. We found out that it would cost between $2.4 and $3.1 million (USD) but could save nearly 4,000 lives! We believe that introducing HPV vaccines in Mongolia would be cost-effective.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, immunity, infectious diseases, microbiology, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: bar graph, pictograph
  • Scientific methods: policy analysis, risk analysis, scientific modeling

8. How can we empower girls to end poverty?

Abstract: Not having enough money to buy everything we want can be disappointing. But true poverty is not having enough money for basic human needs like food, clothing, or a place to live. Governments and organizations are looking for effective ways to help people escape poverty. Some programs give people cash unconditionally – meaning it is given with no strings attached. Others give them conditional cash – for example, only if their children attend school. So which approach is more effective? We compared the impacts of unconditional and conditional cash for schoolgirls in Malawi, Africa. Unconditional cash improved girls’ wellbeing and reduced teen marriage and pregnancy rates. But the positive effects disappeared when the money stopped. Conditional cash led to the girls achieving more at school. Each approach has its unique benefits. We think implementing them together would be a more effective tool to fight poverty than either approach alone.

This article is suitable for high school students.

  • Key terms: economics, poverty
  • Scientific figure: data table, bar graph
  • Scientific methods: experiment, policy analysis

That’s Not All!

For more content on women and girls, check out our collections on the following topics:

And don’t miss meeting six of the amazing women scientists whose work has been adapted by Science Journal for Kids in this collection of written Meet-A-Scientist Interviews.

Title photo credit: Anna Shvets

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