As a woman working in the science industry and a mother of 3 girls who are showing a love for science and maths respectively, it’s no wonder that this is a topic I’ve paid a lot of attention to lately. I have seen first-hand that there is work to be done to encourage more girls to pursue career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Even though there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes by policy makers and educators to remove barriers and encourage women to work and study in STEM fields – which is awesome, but I think it needs to start earlier than that.
With the wage gap, gender performance gap and quickly evolving technology we use today, it’s never been more important to inspire the next generation of girls to believe they can achieve their dreams with a career in STEM.
Young girls these days have more opportunities than ever before they can go after their dreams without as many hesitations and setbacks. I have put together five ways one can make an impact and help motivate the ‘STEM Movement’ of tomorrow:
1. Mentoring young girls:
The value of mentorship is irreplaceable. You should NEVER hesitate to talk about your professional experiences with the girls in your immediate circle, whether it’s your daughter, niece, cousin or neighbor. A mentor is not only someone who is willing to spend time teaching techniques and processes, but also someone who takes an interest in long-term advancement. It’s one thing for girls to look up to historical or celebrity role models like Beyoncé or Maya Angelou for inspiration but when someone you already have a relationship with works in STEM, their passion for what they do is that much more contagious.
Teaming with a mentor is a career strategy that can bring huge benefits, especially to women in unbalanced work environments like engineering. Majority of successful women credit their participation in some sort of mentorship for dramatically helping them reach their career goals.
Studies show that girls are more likely to do well in STEM classes and to pursue careers in STEM if they see examples of successful women in the field. women have always made scientific and technological breakthroughs–this isn’t news. The next step is making sure our daughters, sisters, friends, nieces, and granddaughters, know the history of women in STEM, and know they are not only capable but needed in STEM.
Here are 10 excellent compilations with profiles of amazing women in the STEM fields. These women are rocking careers in STEM and proving that STEM isn’t just a man’s world after all:
The websites below also feature historical and contemporary women in STEM:
2. Talk about the future
If you want to inspire a young girl to go into STEM, make the future a focal point. Questions can stimulate interest in STEM and also the idea of having a stake in the future. The future is what matters the most. What exactly does she want to happen? How exactly does she want to proceed? Does she want to attend university? What career sound the most exciting and compelling to her?
3. Expose girls to science at home
Parents need to expose their children to science and encourage them to keep asking questions, whether it’s through science-focused toys or visits to science centres and museums. The influence of a child’s home life cannot be underestimated in how it impacts their in-school and future achievements. There are several reasons why it is yet not so popular among the female audience; for example, experts say that there is a gender gap in STEM for the most part due to gender stereotypes and bias. To break those stereotypes, parents need to encourage girls to follow their interests, but at the same time, show them how interesting the world of science can be and how easy it is to get started.
4. Encourage experimentation
Since scientists and engineers are professional question askers and problem solvers. When your daughter comes to you with a question, ask her how she can figure it out on her own. Ask her to try new things without fearing that it won’t work. Check out YouTube and find some easy to do at-home science experiments, like making slime out of various household materials.
Experimentation is a great way for her to learn new skills, ideas, and ways to think about problems. A curious mind will not be afraid of trying new things and will not be afraid of asking questions that might lead to new innovations.
5. Get Girls to Participate in Special Programs
Workshops are continuing to be created to encourage young girls to get interested in STEM fields. There are programs available both in school and out of school. These programs help girls understand the different opportunities that will be available to them if they pursue a STEM.
The National STEM Learning Network is the largest provider of STEM education and careers support to schools, colleges and other groups working with young people across the UK.
The Network is dedicated to raising young people’s engagement and achievement in STEM, and increasing the numbers of young people progressing in STEM studies and into STEM-related careers post-16.