This post is sponsored by Learn Bop– Get online math help and tutoring for your homeschooled kids!
Women in science, technology, engineering and math careers earn more money, have more opportunities and are more self-confident – but while girls begin their education with a strong appetite for these subjects, studies show that they lose interest starting in middle school. As a result, women hold less than a quarter of all STEM jobs.
The movement to bring more women to STEM isn’t only important to girls. The more people we encourage to pursue STEM, the more diverse our workplace is – and the more unique backgrounds we have solving the world’s issues.
What can you do to help? Here are five great ways to get the young women in your life excited about STEM.
1. Engage them in STEM at an early age.
The toys children are exposed to have the power to mold their interests into adulthood. When selecting gifts for girls, consider open-ended toys and games (such as puzzles and mazes, building sets or even a kid-friendly 3D printer) that allow them to connect math to their daily lives and engineer, explore and experiment.
Children also have a tendency to let their minds wander. Satisfy this curiosity by encouraging them to question things. If they ask why the sky is blue, how apples grow or where sugar comes from, help find those answers together.
Although it may be difficult, let them fail. Over time, it’ll teach them to fix what’s broken and move past errors. In this problem-solving environment, they’ll develop the logic and analytical skills necessary for any STEM path.
2. Sign them up for special programs.
While more school administrators are implementing STEM curricula that’s inviting to both boys and girls, we can’t wholly rely on K-12 educators alone to paint a comprehensive picture of these subjects.
That’s where special programs come in. National clubs, such as the Girl Scouts, hold science and engineering camps and sponsor robotics teams that let girls learn by doing. For high school students, internships are another great way to immerse girls into the world of STEM. Even something as simple as job shadowing is an excellent way for girls to witness powerful careers in action.
Not only will these opportunities spark girls’ interest in the field, but they’ll expose them to career paths they otherwise may have never knew existed.
3. Give them female role models.
From their earliest youth, girls should be exposed to STEM role models. These influences can range from the books they read, the TV shows they watch or the storylines they follow during playtime. To spark this narrative, introduce the girls in your life to stories about real-life women in STEM.
When they reach adolescence, connect young woman with a strong female mentor. Mentors have a personal interest in the success of their mentees and are dedicated to helping them build confidence, grow professionally and secure jobs.
While some mentorships occur naturally, many credible organizations offer structured programs. The Association for Women in Science, Association for Women in Mathematics, Women in Technology International and Society of Women Engineers, to name a few, all connect young women with willing experts.
4. Bring STEM to their passion.
Instead of presenting STEM solely as a path a successful future (which may seem boring to a kid), help them use it to understand what they love about the world.
If she’s passionate about music, introduce her to different instruments that require an analytical mind as well as creativity and dexterity — all skills important in STEM careers. Turn cooking into a chemistry experiment by working through the various ingredients, measurements and time requirements that create the perfect recipe.
Or, if she loves celebrity culture, introduce her to female entrepreneurs, doers and thinkers who achieved immense success. If your daughter is wondering how to get better at math, will she be more inspired by another round of algebra worksheets or the story of the African-American female NASA scientists in the movie Hidden Figures?
By connecting STEM to her hobbies, you’ll help her stop thinking of these subjects as work and instead present them as a natural way to make sense of her world.
5. Emphasize social impact.
When it comes to the way women choose careers, a prime motivator is ability to contribute to society’s well-being. According the Girl Scouts, 88 percent of girls want to make a difference in the world, but only 13 percent interested in STEM name a first-choice career in these fields.
Show young women how STEM can be relevant to all social needs. Whether it’s designing affordable systems for clean water, medical diagnostic equipment or other innovative humanitarian solutions, STEM is behind every act of social good.
While the lack of women in STEM may seem discouraging, it’s up to us to inspire a new generation of girls to reach their fullest potential. By following any of these five tips, you can help make a difference and inspire the young women in your life to pursue STEM.
Pin it for Later