Exploration of the factors that contribute to few girls choosing to study physics in a secondary school in Kenya

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Prof. Jacob Marriote Ngwaru

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Karuku


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Physics is a branch of science that is very important for one to pursue careers such as engineering, architecture, computer science and technology. These careers are important if a country has to achieve industrial and technological development. Studies show that although by certain measure progress has been made over the las 30 years in narrowing the gender gap in science, girls and women continue to be underrepresented and marginalized in fields such as physics, engineering and technology. The third Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target 3A is gender equality and women empowerment. Ban Ki- Moon (current United nations Secretary General) observes in MDG report of 2012 that, the goal of gender equality remains unfulfilled with broad negative consequences, given that achieving the MDGS depends so much on women empowerment and equal access by women to education among other things. Kenya is emphasizing the implementation of affirmative action where both genders are expected to take at least a third of the jobs in the market. In Kenya, at the beginning of Form Three, learners can opt to continue with all the Sciences (Chemistry, Physics and Biology) or select any two. Although learners have equal access to the three sciences, few girls study Physics. This study explored factors that make few girls choose to study Physics in Form Three in a co-educational Secondary School. A qualitative case study design was used and the study found that whereas home and society factors had some influence on girls' choice, schooling factors greatly influenced girls not to study the Physics option in Form Three. The schooling factors included- curriculum content, teaching methods, lack of qualified and committed teachers, senior students influence and lack of role models. The study recommends teachers, school principals, teacher educators and policy makers to address these factors so as to encourage more girls to study Physics

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