NEWTON, MA | July 16, 2003
Suppose you need a lesson on the hydrosphere for sixth graders. You need it to last 45 minutes, and you’d like to include an interactive component on the water cycle, two minutes of video, a short essay for students to read, and a take-home activity. Ideally, you’d like to highlight the contributions of female hydrophysicists. You type all these requests into a search engine, click on Submit, and instantly the resources are delivered to your computer. Sound far-fetched? Not anymore, with the launch of the Gender & Science Digital Library.
The Gender & Science Digital Library (GSDL) is a vast on-line collection of gender-fair resources in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Part of the National Science Foundation’s major initiative to create, organize, and install high-quality education resources onto the Internet, the GSDL was developed by the Gender, Diversities & Technology Institute at Education Development Center. Much like a “bricks and mortar” library, this ‘virtual’ library catalogs and organizes books, articles, videos, curricula, and software, but it goes a step further by evaluating each one, presenting a short description, and offering instant access, 24 hours a day.
“The GSDL will pull together materials from all over the world and offer instantaneous dissemination,” said Sarita Nair, project director. “And it won’t be just a repository of ideas; it is also designed to generate new ideas,” Nair said. For example, the digital library will feature a series of forums and discussions where users can exchange information and thoughts on the materials in the collection.
“The GSDL was created to help educators integrate gender-equitable instruction into their classrooms,” said EDC’s Katherine Hanson, director of the Gender, Diversities & Technology Institute, and principal investigator on the project. “Despite some narrowing of the gender gap in scientific careers, girls continue to be underrepresented in upper-level science courses in high school and college, and we need to increase the general perception that girls and women can and do play an important role within the sciences,” Hanson said.
The Gender & Science Digital Library was developed in response to a growing need for better access, dissemination, and use of the many high quality gender-fair science materials that have been developed over the past few decades. The GSDL is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of its National STEM Digital Library program.