Increasing class size negatively impacts women's participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics classrooms, says a new study in BioScience. Based on data from 44 different institutions and 5,300 student-instructor interactions, researchers found that this effect kicks in at around 120 students per class. "We show that class size has the largest impact on female participation, with smaller classes leading to more equitable participation. We also found that women are most likely to participate after small-group discussions when instructors use diverse teaching strategies," lead author Cissy Ballen, a former postdoctoral researcher in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University and current assistant professor at Auburn University, said in a statement. "We hope these results encourage instructors to be proactive in their classrooms with respect to these inequities."
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