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Studies have shown that female student’s science and mathematical achievements are consistent with those of their male peers. Nevertheless, women are dramatically underrepresented in STEM professions, with women making up just 12 percent of working engineers. Since it has been found that early exposure to STEM concepts and practice leads to later success in the field, it is important that we understand the differences in engineering skills and levels of interest in young children. This study examines gender differences between young children in multiple measured variables of building tasks at an engineering exhibit in a museum. The sample consists of 68 families, child M age = (5.5 years). In this study researchers asked children to fix a wobbly skyscraper or bridge, and also asked parents to complete a questionnaire regarding their child’s play interests. Children’s attempts at fixing the structures were coded from videotape records at the museum. It is hypothesized that parents will report male children having greater prior experience and interest with engineering games than females, which may predict greater success in the building tasks. We will report results on potential gender differences in children’s prior play experiences and interest as a predictor of success in these building tasks.



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Gender Differences in Children’s Prior Play Experiences as a Predictor of Success in Engineering Tasks