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Griffin, Panelists Discuss Gender Equity in Education on WPSU

Kimberly Griffin, assistant professor of education, participated in a panel discussion on gender equity in education on WPSU's Common Ground Lobby Talk that aired January 8.

by Pamela Batson (January 2009)
Throughout the field of education, researchers have often asked whether girls are receiving the same education as boys and what factors might contribute to girls’ success. To further address this issue, panelists on WPSU’s Common Ground Lobby Talks discussed a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) titled "Where the Girls Are: The Facts about Gender Equity in Education.”

Kimberly Griffin, assistant professor of education, was a panelist along with Christianne Corbett, first author of the report and research associate with the AAUW Educational Foundation, and Terri Vescio, assistant professor of psychology at Penn State. Hosted by Cheryl Dellasega, professor of humanities and women’s studies in Penn State’s College of Medicine, the panel discussed the impact of gender, social, economic, and ethnic background on scholastic achievement.

The panel addressed topics such as:  Should girls be educated differently from boys?  Does the self-fulfilling prophecy play a role in how girls succeed in fields such as science and math that are traditionally considered areas for boys? Is there a crisis in boys’ education? How do the middle school years affect girls’ self-esteem?  How do race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status intersect with gender to create gaps in educational equity?

“The panel was such a great opportunity to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion not only about gaps in academic achievement, but also beginning to address the sociological and psychological roots of the disparities we observe,” said Griffin. “It is so important to gain a deeper understanding of the ways students from different groups experience our education system, and how access to resources and stereotypes about their abilities can shape performance.”

Griffin's research interests are primarily focused in two areas: the access, experiences, and outcomes of underrepresented communities in higher education; and the influence of relationships on outcomes at critical time points.

At the end of the talk, the panel took questions from the audience and at Dellasega’s request, gave recommendations to parents and educators on how to help all children be better achievers.

The talk was presented in collaboration with the American Association of University Women and the Commission for Women at Penn State.

The program aired on January 8, 2009, and will also appear on the Big Ten Network at a date to be determined. The full talk can be viewed at

Common Ground Lobby Talks bring together the academy, the community, and the power of public media in the pursuit of increasing public discourse and providing a public forum for nuanced discussion. Common Ground Lobby Talks are a production of WPSU in partnership with the Public Service Media Study Group.

The Public Service Media Study Group, which began in Spring 2006 with partial funding by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is comprised of faculty members, graduate students, community members and WPSU TV/FM professionals.  The group's goal is to provide a forum for interchange and exploration of the issues faced by public media and higher education as both reexamine their shared commitment to public engagement.