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Recruiting and Retaining Girls and Women to Pursue STEM Careers and Play Sports: Comparing Challenges and Lessons Learned

Eugene Judson, Pamela Hodges Kulinna


Recruiting and retaining girls and women is a shared concern in the United States across physical education, physical activity, and sports (PE/PA/Sport); as well as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). An examination of gender equity research was conducted by the two authors, one of whom is an expert in STEM education, and one of whom is an expert in physical education pedagogy.  This led to the supposition that there exist three common divides between men and women: (a) exposure and image, (b) instruction/coaching, and (c) socio-cultural. The common threads of these divides that impede female participation are surprisingly quite similar across PE/PA/Sport and STEM. In this paper the common reasons for non-participation, and even aversion, are examined. Following this, lessons of success from each of the disciplines is applied to the other. Finally, it is conjectured how the practice of examining this shared issue aids both disciplines.


equity; gender equity; female participation; equity; STEM education; physical education; gender

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