Women and girls play a crucial role in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, which aim to solve big challenges like global pandemics, climate change, and improving communication through technology. In addition to being inclusive, increasing women's participation in STEM can boost our economy, reduce the pay gap, and create a more diverse and talented workforce, leading to innovative ideas and solutions.
What are some reasons that women are underrepresented in STEM fields?
- People often think of STEM as being ‘more for boys than for girls’, and sadly, this thinking starts early (think preschool.)
- Girls don't see as many female scientists and engineers in books, TV shows, and movies, so they don't have as many role models.
- By the time they're in third grade, many girls lose confidence in math, while boys already feel confident in second grade, even if they don't actually do better in math.
- STEM fields often have fewer women working in them, which can create a culture that is not welcoming or supportive of them. This can make it harder for women to succeed in these fields and can make them feel excluded or discouraged.
Closing the gender gap in STEM is going to take a lot of work. We need to make sure everyone knows that girls are just as good as boys in STEM and that they should receive the same encouragement and opportunities to learn and succeed in these fields. We also need to communicate to parents the importance of supporting their daughters in pursuing STEM interests and education. Remember, as with anything, math and science skills can be learned and improved over time so promoting a positive mindset will help girls feel confident and empowered in these subjects.
Clearly, changes are needed in how we teach STEM. Starting from early education through high school, girls should have the support they need in STEM subjects. Other ways we can enrich STEM for girls:
- Provide teacher training that involves recognizing any biases they might have and how to treat boys and girls equally when it comes to STEM subjects.
- Girls should be encouraged to take advanced math and science classes, and all students should have opportunities to learn about engineering, computer science, and the latest science standards.
- Make STEM lessons and activities more engaging by connecting them to girls' lives, making them hands-on and interactive, and showing how STEM can be used to solve real-world problems.
- Providing after-school and summer programs that offer STEM opportunities for girls.
- Ensure girls know about the possibilities for higher education and careers in STEM. This includes seeing role models, especially women of color, in STEM.
It’s vital to have more women and girls in STEM. It's not just about being fair, it's about creating a diverse and talented workforce, improving women's economic security, and finding innovative solutions to big challenges. By raising awareness, giving girls the same opportunities and encouragement as boys, promoting positive messages about girls' abilities, showcasing women role models, improving STEM education, our girls can be inspired to pursue their interests in these fields.
For a list of STEM resources for girls, click: Top 10 STEM Resources for Girls.
For a list of STEM Role models, click: Role Models to Inspire the Next Generation of STEM Leaders.
Explore our award-winning STEM education solutions, including MyStemKits standards-aligned curriculum and Robo 3D printer, here – MimioSTEM.