How to Encourage Girls in STEM

How to Encourage Girls in STEM

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    In the 21st century, the world is transforming into an STEM-based society. Everyone has heard this acronym, but people are only now starting to realize how many everyday subjects it entails and how they will become more and more prominent in the future. STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. In this technological age, we are bound to keep developing new technologies and creating more jobs in these fields, therefore, it is essential to encourage youths to pursue these fields. Women are already becoming more and more prominent in scientific careers, but encouraging girls’ interests in STEM fields will help the gender gap in these careers become smaller and smaller in the future. If we want all the best and brightest minds in our scientific workforce, men and women need to be given equal opportunities to pursue these topics; therefore, sparking and encouraging girls’ interest in STEM fields is imperative. Many girls are interested in STEM, but may not necessarily have the means to pursue this interest. There are many ways to help your female children or students pursue their interest in STEM fields, including attending seminars, having role models, participating in an extracurricular club or self-learning with a robotics kit.

     One great way to help young women pursue STEM fields is to attend a GEMS- Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science- seminar, either with a group from the school or independently. Many one day seminars, weekend retreats, or even summer camps can be found online in all areas of the USA. The Girl Scouts of America often sponsor such events. These seminars are a great way for kids to get a small taste of many different STEM fields. Sessions include topics such as biology, psychology, robotics, programming, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and an abundance of engineering topics. This is a great way for girls to be around like-minded peers who are also interested in the science and creates an opportunity for them to meet women scientist who can serve as role models.

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  Role models are an important part of anyone pursuing STEM fields. This role model does not necessarily have to be someone you know personally but is often more impactful if they are, such as a teacher who can offer guidance. Teachers can give their students opportunities to find scientific role models through a simple activity in class. Have students choose a scientific role model and complete a research project. Providing a list including all kinds of scientists and their fields of work can be helpful. Have the students create a short presentation on this scientist and their work. Giving students time to research all kinds of different scientist and encouraging them to find individuals who they have not previously learned about will help expand their boundaries of who scientist can be. Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, and Grace Hooper are just a few of the accomplished female scientists to be chosen for this project. Having a role model and becoming familiar with a specific scientists work outside of usual class time will help spark any student’s interest in scientific fields.

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 Another way to encourage girls in STEM fields is to start a STEM or robotics club in school. Meeting once a week outside of class will give students an opportunity to pursue the STEM fields they enjoy the most and will give them a chance to approach projects in a more creative way than they do inside of a lesson plan. All students’ passion for science shines through when they are able to gather with their peers and investigate scientific inquiries. Students in these clubs might even have the opportunity to participate in competitions, which can both be rewarding and encourage persistence. Parents, if your child’s school does not already have a STEM or robotics club, consider purchasing an at home do it yourself robotics kit for them so your student can explore coding, engineering, and robotics all at once.

     No gender should be associated with scientific career fields. Until this greater social problem is stabilized, we must all do our part to break down these barriers for the greater good of society. Girls are naturally interested in STEM, especially in the 21st century, when technology is a curiosity all human beings, especially children, share. Exposure to STEM fields is key; give all of your students, male or female, the confidence to explore these topics in class or on their own. Be sure to help your students continue their studies of STEM and provide an outlet or helping hand for any challenges they might have. Ultimately, give all students equal opportunity to pursue what they love.

Derek Capo