A constant discussion in our society proves again and again that girls and women are underrepresented in STEM. In the meantime, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is more than ever a hot topic today. According to the U.S. Department of Education, college graduates with majors in scientific areas of studies earn on average $15 500 more than non-STEM majors – it is a taste of things to come. Entire states and national organizations recognize the need for STEM involvement in the economic prosperity of society. New jobs are opening up, the whole new industries full of opportunities to grow.
So how to diminish the gender gap in this field and empower young girls to prosper in STEM? Let’s figure it out.
1. First push
Parents are the first ones to make a child engaged. They are the first for a kid to open up the doors of opportunities to this world and the ones whom children wish to be alike. 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.
2. Problem-solving and analytical skills
The very foundation to succeed in fields of technology and engineering is the ability of problem-solving and analytical thinking. Looking from another angle, if you want to develop the above mentioned set of skills in a kid, STEM activities are of a great help in mastering them all. So, like everything in our interconnected world, one affects the other.
Obviously, the problem-solving abilities and analytical skills of young girls in their early childhood are not lagging from their fellows who are boys. It is not uncommon that many girls outperform boys in this age. To foster the development of those skills in young ladies, we need to actively encourage them to discover, be proactive, and be curious; we need to give them the means and the tools to explore and to innovate early on – this can become a cornerstone of their further interest in science and technology.
3. Take action early
Studies show that girls lose interest in math and science during middle school. The survey from Microsoft tells the exact age when young girls lose abruptly their interest in STEM – it happens approximately at the age of 15. Girls start to feel less confident due to social expectations and perceived gender roles: it is mostly not because of the common belief that girls are not great-achievers in math and science, but rather because of the stereotype that with the same abilities, compared to boys, they are likely to give up. Thus, it is very important to start encouraging girls to investigate the world of science, technology, engineering, and math already at the young age, and continue to do so as the grow up.
4. Tell that science can be applied in real-life
It is important to show a child that STEM is not merely dry facts and textbooks to read. Instead, let them experiment how the material can be applied in real-life situations. Let them exercise what they learned. Give girls the freedom to experiment and show that they truly can make a difference in the world if they know how it works.
5. Remind of the famous women in science
It is easier to approach if you see successful examples. History depicts a lot of very interesting examples of women who excel in STEM areas, remarkably and proudly.
Did you know that instructions for the first computer program were written by a woman called Ada Lovelace?
She was one of the earliest computer pioneers and also the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the famous British poet. At her mother’s insistence, tutors taught her mathematics and science. Being gifted mathematician, she published an article in 1843 with her thoughts on how codes can be created on a machine. Ada is often considered to be the first computer programmer.
Encourage girls with amazing examples of women in STEM!
Finally, girls love STEM!
One of the amazing findings of Girl Scouts Research Institute was that girls really do say that they are interested in STEM subjects! 74% of the sample group are showing interest in science, technology, engineering, and math to some extent.
We all have food for thought. As parents and teachers, be as much supportive as you can, and your faith in your young explorers who constantly ask questions about the world will be the best thing you can do for them. There is no horizon for talented people and you can see, the enthusiasm and natural curiosity of children are endless. Empower girls in STEM and you will see the inherent tremendous potential of our young girls and boys.
Robo Wunderkind is a gender-neutral coding toy and coming back to the question “where to start for the youngest?”, Robo Wunderkind is the best answer. The smallest girls and boys enjoy learning with our robotics kit because they are too young to read engineering books, but smart enough to code, build robots, and learn with laughter while they play.