Communities play a key role in helping girls to pursue STEM studies. Learn how your family, school, and community-at-large can positively encourage your daughter in STEM.
It’s easy to place all of the responsibility for teaching solely on our school system. However, I would argue that our communities at large and as a whole play a key role: home, schools, and the larger community. Especially when it comes to STEM.
This is a sponsored post.
What is STEM? Why Is It Important?
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Some organizations expand this acronym to STEAM to include Art education.
It is imperative that we take an active role in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technology experts.
The Shortage Of Women In STEM
Why is there such a shortage of qualified women in the U.S. pursuing engineering or other STEM fields? According to Fast Company:
“Research shows women decide to become involved in STEM or related fields very early on, at around one-year-old to 18 months, when we begin playing with toys. Male students are more likely to pursue STEM because they have always enjoyed games and toys that are focused on their chosen subject area.
In North America, adults make decisions about which toys we promote to children. As we do that, we slowly drive girls to think of other fields rather than STEM-related. Much of what we do as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles is subtle, but it is consistent through childhood.”
How You Can Encourage Girls in STEM
Here are five practical ways you can start encouraging girls to study STEM today:
1. Invite Questions
Encourage your daughter’s natural curiosity about the world. Scientists and engineers are professional question askers and problem solvers.
Let her know that she doesn’t have to have all the answers. Instead, encourage her to explore and discover!
When my daughter was in preschool, she was named “Most Inquisitive.” In STEM, that’s a good thing!
Celebrate her when she tries new things. Even if you don’t understand STEM, be positive anyway.
2. Encourage her to Pursue STEM in School
Expect girls to do well in STEM and communicate your expectations clearly. With the growing importance of science and technological literacy, it is important to spark and strengthen girls’ engagement, interest, and confidence in STEM subjects in elementary and middle school.
Once in high school, your daughter will make choices that will either open or close doors to STEM studies and career choices.
High school was easy for me. I graduated from high school at the top of my class, with joint graduation from a governor’s school dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Was college easy, too? Not so much!
Nevertheless, I went on to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with B.A. in Communication Studies. I now have a technology-based position in marketing with an advertising agency.
It’s a very flexible job that allows me to attend field trips to art museums with my daughter (pictured below).
Having a strong knowledge base in STEM topics will give your girl the opportunity to access any career path she chooses, with confidence. Even being a mechanic!
Help her see the connections between STEM classes and future career options. Start early!
3. Help Access STEM Opportunities
Great STEM learning opportunities can be found outside the classroom. I was also able to attend a field trip to a local zoo with her.
Learning opportunities for kids can be found at science museums, zoos, scouting organizations, and STEM clubs during after-school hours, weekends, and summer breaks. We love visiting our transportation museum.
These programs often provide girls with introductions to working female mentors who can help girls navigate the course of becoming a scientist or engineer.
There is a new kids franchise business called Snapology.
Snapology’s approach is based on proven research that childrens’ best learning experiences come from actively designing, creating, interacting and inventing. Snapology activities encourage social skills and teamwork, while teaching STEM / STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) and literacy concepts to children.
Educating children on STEM concepts has become a larger focus in our school systems over the past few years, but many schools don’t have the resources to allow children explore these concepts in a fun, interactive manner.
It’s amazing to have a local resource to inspire children to pursue careers in STEM fields through educational play and hands-on learning at a young age.
4. Connect her to a Role Model/Mentor
Seeing women who have succeeded in STEM helps inspire and motivate girls, especially when they can relate to these role models as people with lives outside of work. Role models and mentors not only broaden girls’ views of who does science, but expand girls’ vision of what’s possible in their own lives. You can share role models with your girl by reading biographies, looking at video and text profiles online and watching tv shows (fictional and documentary) that feature female STEM role models.
Talk with family, neighbors, friends and community members that work in STEM fields and ask them questions about what they do and how they got there.
5. Incorporate STEM Into Your Home
The home is the first institution of learning. We need to encourage our girls to build their self-esteem at home so that they can be able to fight the system when it discourages them to follow their hearts.
Often, we have to encourage ourselves and rise above the criticism when you are a minority (by ethnicity or gender or both).
Women only represent 26% of the STEM workforce. Encouraging women and others who are underrepresented to enter these fields will ultimately improve these professions, maximizing innovation to create products and services that are better representations of all users.
In addition, jobs in these areas offer higher than average salaries, and employment in STEM occupations are expected to increase much faster than the overall growth rate for occupations. (Source)
Encourage women to follow subjects like Mathematics and Science. Encourage them not to be intimidated by the idea that men are more capable in STEM fields. In fact, women can end up making history in STEM!
As students’ progress to middle and high schools, the disparity becomes evident. Foreign-born parents living in American strongly encourage their children to excel in STEM programs.
See gifts in your children and encourage them to be the best. Help pay for all their education and help them apply for scholarships.
Do everything in your power to help your daughters (and sons) to be successful!
This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal. This set is recommended for ages 6+.
How to Win a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot Sebastian Gator
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This promotion is open until April 6, 2017 at 11:59 pm EST and is limited to US residents, 18 years or older. The winner will be chosen randomly. Winner must respond to email within 24 hours or prize may be forfeited. Promotional content and prize for this promotion is provided by and shipped by sponsor. and/or its representatives. The prize may be sent via FedEx or UPS. No P.O. Boxes please.