Getting Girls Involved in STEM Through Play
Although they make up almost half of the U.S. workforce, women are still hugely underrepresented in STEM. We’ve definitely made progress – 27% of STEM workers were women in 2019 vs. 8% in 1970. But there’s still a huge gap, with 73% of STEM workers being men. When there’s a more equal playing field in the workforce, this helps women to earn financial security, narrows the gender pay gap, and prevents bias in research.
Why do we need more women in STEM?
The highest-earning STEM occupations like engineering and science have the lowest number of women employed in these roles, and it’s time for this to change. Women are essential when it comes to innovation, discoveries, and making the changes we need to see in the world. When scientific research is conducted only by men, it leads to the world being designed for men. Women’s needs are not considered almost half as much as they need to be.
How can we make a meaningful change?
We need to go back to the start when it comes to young girls, nurturing their interest in STEM and giving them the tools and support they need to be successful. As children, girls choose to study STEM based subjects in school, which leads to getting a university degree in a STEM subject, which leads to them becoming employed in the STEM workforce. And we need to be there for them every step of the way.
Why do girls need more encouragement than boys?
When girls find mentors and role models to look up to, they also start to notice all of the hostility and sexism that can be directed towards their heroes. Oftentimes girls internalize this harmful messaging, which really discourages them and leads to their interest in STEM decreasing. Combating sexism is something that we all need to be a part of – including boys. We need to talk to them about how their behavior and attitude can be part of the solution.
When encouraging girls to get involved in STEM, we need to ensure we’re using an intersectional and inclusive approach too. Girls of different races, ethnicities, body types, and physical abilities need to feel seen in order for them to feel like STEM is for them. When girls feel safe speaking up, their voices can contribute to and enrich the STEM workforce with their unique points of view and big ideas – and this can only lead to good things.
How can we encourage school-aged girls to get involved in STEM?
There are a variety of ways that we can get young girls involved in STEM while they’re at school.
1. Encourage girls to take math and science classes in school – especially advanced classes
2. Ensure all students are exposed to computer science and engineering – regardless of gender
3. Offer STEM after-school and summer camp programs for girls
4. Increase awareness of STEM-based university programs and career opportunities, as well as mentoring options
Blog post by Michaela Deane, Marketing Director at Kidzsmart Communications
Kidzsmart is our Canadian network partner. Here is a short blurb about them -
“We believe your content should be more than just another coloring book. Kidzsmart is a creative agency that is your spokesperson to modern families, and we’re dedicated to contributing to the greater wellbeing of kids.
For over 20 years we’ve worked with the government, healthcare, and educations sectors as well as global brands in the restaurant and hospitality, tourism, and professional sports industries. Our team has the expertise to expand your family outreach, and we have the tools to do it right. Top of feed means top of mind, and we’re dedicated to creating greater family content that makes a meaningful impact on the lives of kids and families!”