The winners of the 56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) have been named as Cork 16 year olds Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan.
The fourth year students from Coláiste Choilm, Cork, took home the top prize for a project spotlighting gender bias among primary school children.
Entitled “A statistical investigation into the prevalence of gender stereotyping in 5-7 year olds and the development of an initiative to combat gender bias” they took home 7.5K euro for their trouble.
The coveted prize was presented to the winners by Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, and Managing Director of BT Ireland, Shay Walsh.
Commenting on the winners work Head Judge of the Social and Behavioural Sciences Group category, Professor Joe Barry said ‘Despite awareness of the lower percentage of females relative to males pursuing study and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), we still do not understand exactly why this is the case.
‘The aim of Cormac and Alan’s project was to determine how early gender stereotyping can be identified. They conducted workshops with 376 5-7 year olds from a range of school settings with a number of different tasks including: choosing between gender-specific and gender-neutral toys; drawing and naming an engineer, and; rating male and female competency at a number of gender-specific roles. One of the most striking findings emerging from the research was that 96% of boys drew a male engineer while just over 50% of girls drew a female engineer.
‘This, along with the other data, indicates that gender stereotypes emerge in young children and that they are particularly strong among boys. Cormac and Alan’s findings are important as intervention typically focusses on girls, but the project recognises the need to focus on all children, boys and girls, from a young age, in order to combat the development of gender stereotyping. The project is particularly impressive in that Cormac and Alan also created very pertinent and useable resources for primary school teachers to combat gender stereotyping among young children.’
The 2020 BT Young Scientist & Technology winners received the BTYSTE perpetual trophy and the top prize of €7,500. The lucky winners will also represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which takes place in Santander, Spain in September 2020. Cormac and Alan will also get to attend the 62nd Annual London International Youth Science Forum later in the year.
You can catch up on the project here.