Despite our best efforts, men still outnumber women in STEM related careers. Research shows that negative stereotypes and lack of encouragement about going into STEM fields can wear away girls’ interest in STEM subjects over time. These biases are often shown in small ways that add up over a girl’s childhood -- seeing more males play programmers, mathematicians, and scientists on TV, getting only dolls and kitchen sets as gifts rather than science kits and architecture blocks, or simply not being told about STEM opportunities in or after school.
Just like small moments wear away at girls’ interest in STEM, small changes can make a difference in encouraging girls to try STEM too. It’s important to help girls explore science, technology, engineering, and math in a constructive way by providing experience free of bias and misconceptions on the educators part. Many well-meaning teachers still have a misconception that boys are better at math or are more likely to have higher IQ’s. These ideas have been proven false by research and can be very harmful to students who might otherwise excel in math and science.
Repeated exposure to STEM experiences in multiple contexts is the best way to overcome the various ways girls get discouraged from math and science subjects. This helps girls gain a rich understanding of STEM and STEAM careers, build a sense of community within STEM pursuits, and gives girls an opportunity to track personal growth as they learn.
In order to make small changes towards progress, we’ve collected a list of various ways to get girls involved in STEM/STEAM:
All kids benefit from getting girls involved in STEM. Our goal is to make STEAM a routine environment that is comfortable for boys, girls, teachers, and parents to participate in. Keep checking back for fun STEM/STEAM ideas!
Effective STEM Programs for Adolescent Girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned by Harriet S. Mosatche, Susan Matloff-Nieves, Linda Kekelis, and Elizabeth K. Lawner
Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics by Catherine Hill, Ph.D. Christianne Corbett, & Andresse St. Rose, Ed.D.
Cascading Influences: Long-Term Impacts of Informal STEM Experiences for Girls by Dale McCreedy, Ph.D. and Lynn D. Dierking, Ph.D. Edited by Lisa Jo Rudy