It’s long been the sad case that girls are in the minority when it comes to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (collectively referred to as STEM). The STEM approach where the four subjects are integrated and not studied individually is different to how they have been taught in past years. The hope is that using an integrated rather than separate approach, female students can find greater use and interest in the subjects due to their extendable application in real-world situations.
Here are a few ways that we can encourage girls to enter STEM studies and careers.
Encouraging more women into a STEM career by providing special programs is becoming an effective way to create new interest in the topics. Whether studied on-campus or off-campus, programs aimed directly at helping girls to break down the barriers and throw off mistaken beliefs about a scientific or engineering career work well. They address the barriers to entry that may or may not exist for women in related professions. Quite often they can talk with women who are working in STEM-related careers currently. They can speak about their experience in their roles and whether they’re finding fulfilment. Doing so opens the eyes of potential program participants.
There are USA scholarships available for students who qualify. While over a quarter of first-year high schoolers show an interest in STEM topics, only about 60 percent are potentially good enough in the field of mathematics. However, over half are no longer interested in a STEM career once they have completed high school.
By offering scholarships for girls who apply themselves at school in subjects like mathematics, computer science and other topics connected to STEM, female students may be encouraged to avoid taking on unnecessary student debt to study another field when they can benefit from college funding through an available scholarship.
Having mentors available at school and at educational career meetings provides a way to encourage girls to think ahead to their college options and plan their schooling accordingly. Where some girls may lack the confidence to tackle subjects that they feel are beyond them – often subjects related to STEM due to the perception that they’re too difficult – with a mentor to lay out their path and both demystify the topics and provide emotional support, more girls will be brave enough to push forward with a technical and scientific course of study.
Tell a Story
Painting a picture of what they can do in a STEM career is a vivid way to get the point across that this type of career can be interesting. Being an engineer who creates new things for a living or producing an app that the world can use on their smartphone ignites the imagination in children. Inventing new things using the power of science and discovery is fascinating, taking the mystery away from science and turning it into something emotive and exciting. Almost everyone loves a good story which evokes strong emotional reactions. It’s also a great way to hook young girls on what they can do when they grow up.
When girls learn that their intelligence can take them a long way, they grasp lessons that aren’t always available in their home life. Not every young girl gets to have a positive role model at home; sometimes teachers and career counselors at school must be that person to show them a world of possibilities then when leave school or college and go out into the world.