Norway’s gender gap: classroom participation in undergraduate introductory science


  • Cissy J Ballen University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Marie Danielsen Dept of Biology, University of Bergen
  • Christian Jørgensen Dept of Biology, University of Bergen
  • John-Arvid Grytnes Dept of Biology, University of Bergen
  • Sehoya Cotner College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities



ABSTRACT: To assess the extent that gender disparities exist at the undergraduate level in STEM, we analyzed participation in three large introductory biology classes in Norway, a country with one of the highest ratings of gender equality in the world. Biology 100 is a traditionally taught lecture course for first year students that has one instructor, and employs diverse pedagogical techniques to increase engagement. Biology 102A and 102B are two immersive field courses for second year students; classes often take place in atypical teaching venues both indoors and outside. In Biology 100 and Biology 102B, we discovered that women participate less than would be expected given their numerical dominance, matching results from similar research conducted in the United States. In Biology 102A women participate the amount that would be expected given their numbers, and in no instances did we observe women speaking significantly more than would be expected. We discuss our results in the context of female success in STEM. If gender gaps in participation and performance are mutually reinforcing, educators seeking to promote women should address both factors simultaneously to maximize student achievement. Effective interventions are of critical importance for women in science, and have strong implications for the achievement of equity in STEM disciplines.


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Author Biography

Cissy J Ballen, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Postdoctoral Associate

Department of Biology Teaching and Learning

College of Biological Sciences


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