Guest post by Jocelyn Stone
It’s no secret that there’s a large gender gap in STEM fields - fewer women end up studying STEM fields in college, and therefore usually don’t end up in such professions. Studies show that there is an interest in STEM courses, and more women are taking degrees in coding, biotech, and other related fields. However, the social bias towards women in these fields tends to lower their motivation to pursue the degree, and they consequently drop out. What can be done, then, to encourage women to study and stick to a STEM career? Let’s take a look at a few ways to do this.
Expose girls to STEM from a young age
Letting young girls explore their way through the world and try different things is what helps them decide what they’re interested in. From there, they’ll be more prepared to take higher-level STEM courses in school and college. Young children (not necessarily just girls) thrive when they have access to a wide variety of activities, such as hiking, cooking, and even grocery shopping. All of these have a basis in STEM: seeing what nature had to provide, how certain ingredients interact with each other, and what nutrition labels have to say.
Connecting STEM jobs to current, real-world issues
Climate change is an issue that is affecting every single thing on this planet - and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for real-world cases in which to apply STEM studies. In our previous article, we discussed some ways to help. A few of the STEM careers in the field include agricultural science, climate change research, and even oceanography. These professions demonstrate how connecting STEM to the world girls live in today can encourage them to look at it purely as a means of solving problems and bettering the world, and less as a matter of breaking into an exclusive industry.
Emphasizing jobs rather than underlying skills
Rather than just focusing on skill and educational material, talking about career paths when girls are still young teaches them that not only are they free to pursue subjects that interest them, but that they should expect and anticipate career paths relating to those subjects. Lots of kids today are getting used to hearing about technology and the importance of data, digital tools, and predictive analytics, among others. If you focus on what exciting research careers these subjects can lead to, such as social science research leading to jobs in areas like healthcare, girls might come to feel that they belong in such careers The truth of the matter is that the entire future of research is being altered by these subjects, and in ways that present a lot of exciting career paths.
Supporting related non-profits
It is also important to recognize that there are non-profit organizations around the world working specifically to help girls who are interested in STEM. Some of the women-led causes right here at Every.org in fact have to do with this very cause. To give a few examples, Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Link Inc. helps all K-12 kids with math and science education and connections to individuals with STEM backgrounds; Girls in Tech seeks to empower girls and women seeking entry into tech fields. Supporting and donating to organizations like these through Every.org is another means by which you can support girls in STEM.
Finding role models
It’s true that there are quite a few women who serve as wonderful role models for women who are considering STEM options. Women like Karenenn Terrell, the Chief Digital & Technology Officer of GSK, and Andrea Loubier, the CEO and co-founder of Mailbird are both women involved in STEM. In fact, Andrea is quite outspoken about the importance of women in STEM and wage equality.
Women are having a rough time of it in regards to STEM college courses and careers. However, there are plenty of things that we as a society can do to encourage more women to study STEM and stick to it.