‘I don’t find it hard!’ They defied the gendered norm in science!

Alice Machocho Mwang’ombe, Mweru Mwingi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects offered as a discipline in schools demand that learners engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and innovation. The subjects develop logical thinking, information literacy and exploration, all essential skills to survive work-life demands in the 21st century. The reality however is that STEM is perceived as challenging to master and constructed as a masculine discipline. Therefore, there is a high prevalence of gender stereotypes affecting female access. While gendered beliefs and practices are known to reduce access to STEM, research does not accentuate the positive on women and girls that have broken the barriers in science as the few studies are predominantly from the West. However, increasingly, Kenya National Examination Council results indicate the rise of women in STEM. A selection of successful girls and teachers in a public secondary school in Taita Taveta County, Kenya was taken. Drawing from focus group discussions,interviews and documents, the qualitative study demonstrates an invincible trend where an interplay of positive influences, strong self-efficacy and motivation have become anchors toward girls’ successful engagement in STEM. Findings confirm the postulates of the expectancy-value theory that students’ self-concepts and intrinsic value determine their aspirations, subject choices and achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1282
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Girls and STEM
  • qualitative
  • science engagement


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