Discover more from EmpowerHer: Women Career & Life Newsletter
#1: Girls & STEM
What can we do to encourage more girls to pursue STEM
There is a photo in my house of my son's middle school math club before they head off to the local tournament. All the kids are wearing the same color dark blue T-shirts with the teachers standing at the side. If you look closely, what will strike you is there are 6 girls in a sea of 40 students. What is not right with this picture?
I often use this picture as an icebreaker to drive conversations around Girls in STEM. When you visit Robotics tournaments you may see a similar disparity. Young Girls bring enormous drive, talent, communication, and a distinct way of solving problems that these school teams and the workforce can benefit from. Those 6 girls did really well in the tournaments winning accolades for themselves and the school.
A study conducted by Microsoft shows that girls are interested in STEM at 11 and lose interest by 15. The kids in the photo were 11-12 years old. From a recent conversation with the CEO of Girl Scouts of North East Texas (GSNETX), Jennifer Kiehl Bartkowski, I learned that from 3rd grade Girls can start to shift away from STEM. No matter if the drift away from STEM is seen at age 8, age 11, or age 15, we have a similar problem to solve.
You can listen to the podcast episode with JenniferKiehl Bartkowski and Elina Davis here
Young girls and women need mentors and role models. We need to interact with people who look like us so we can see our future stories written in the sand. Organizations like Girls Who Code and Girl Scouts are tackling this issue, to build this pipeline early. Girls who code is invested in building a pipeline of female engineers and Girl Scouts has been building centers of STEM excellence to expose kids from various backgrounds including girls from low-income neighborhoods to careers in STEM.
So what can we do as Parents, Teachers, and Citizens of the world? Well, one way is to be mentors, role models, etc...
Wherever, whenever you find the opportunity to have a conversation with young girls, do so. Sign up to be a mentor at school clubs and other organizations that empower young women. Young women can question themselves and show a lack of confidence in pursuing STEM careers and it behooves us to shore up their confidence and show them what impact they can have.
Technology careers lead to high-paying jobs. Girls often want to pursue a career of purpose, so it's imperative for us to tie the impact of technology careers to purpose and pay and paint that picture. You can touch one person and the ripple effect can impact their peers and generations to come.
By being a mentor, and role model, you can start to close the gender gap in STEM and also drive the conversation around the gender pay gap.
I take every opportunity during carpool to have a conversation around STEM with the female friends of my sons. Where else would I find such a "captive" audience 😉?
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