An international study by the OECD looked at why academic success in science does not convey into economic advantage for girls as they mature into the workplace of high-paid science and technology careers.
The results point to a lack in confidence irrespective of their school results. The OECD's education director, Andreas Schleicher, points to "gender differences in self-confidence" as a possible key difference.
So the pressure on young girls to succeed and fit the mold rather than break it continues. Even those girls who are as good or better than their male classmates in obtaining science skills are still emerging from school without having had sufficient support in developing their self-confidence and resilience.
I firmly believe that tinkering and making has the potential to counter this. Hands-on project-based learning gives students the chance to verify their own abilities in a risk-reduced space. Tinkering without exact instructions, students have the opportunity to experience the challenge of little failures as they try out different solutions and test out hypothesis in pursuit of their goal. This cycle of prototyping, reflecting, revising, and trying again has the potential to deeply shift a child's confidence in her/his ability to be successful despite small setbacks.
Tinkering offers lighthearted self-confidence building through active and tangible achievement.