Publication Details

Khan, Z. Reza. & Rodrigues, G. 2017, 'STEM For Girls From Low Income Families: Making Dreams Come True', Journal of Developing Areas, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 435-448.


Sixty two million girls are being denied education worldwide (Yousafzai, 2015). Unfortunately, this is not a new trend. Neither is it a diminishing one. In the UAE, although on an average more girls are enrolled in schools than boys, with approximately 126000 girls to 112000 boys, about 1100 girls dropped out of school when compared to 460 boys between years 2013-2014 (Hanif, 2015). There have been host of initiatives within the country by government and non-government agencies to increase awareness towards female education and particularly towards STEM higher education and employment opportunities. However, these initiatives do not often reach the schools that target low-income families in the country. This paper reports findings from the phase one of a pilot study carried out with 235 female students belonging to low-income expatriate families living in the UAE. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, based on Microsoft Corp. survey on students that commissioned Harris Interactive to carry out two national surveys of K-12 parents and students on STEM education (Microsoft Corp., n.d.), a five-year plan is followed in this study. As a result, it highlights the significant gap in knowledge and understanding of parents in lower income bracket towards STEM education for girls. It also reports on the successful transition of 43% of the girls into STEM school education all the way to STEM higher education through dedicated summer workshops and internships provided through consulate grounds and local universities, as opposed to typical choices between completing high school and getting married, or going into non-STEM field such as social/fashion/business studies/etc. This research result highlights the strength of holistic, non-profit initiatives and approaches that can still bring in the desired results in increasing number of girls from low-income families pursuing STEM education and career, which can definitely be incorporated into educational policies of a country.



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