By: Britney Morgan
It’s no secret that less women work in the STEM career field than men. Although women that do work in STEM make 33% more than women that do not, a large gap remains.
Why the large gap? A study by the Girl Scouts of America gives three reasons:
1. Girls often don’t feel welcome in STEM classrooms.
2. They often see no connection between what they are learning in the classroom to the careers they dream to pursue.
3. They don’t have role models for many STEM careers such as engineering or computer programming.
Early exposure is essential to heighten interest in STEM among girls.
Disney introduces medical and computer sciences with two of their newer shows Doc Mcstuffins and Miles from Tomorrowland. Doc is a young girl that diagnoses and treats her broken toys in her backyard playhouse clinic. Miles from Tomorrowland is centered around Miles Castillo- a kid on a mission to find new discoveries in the universe, but everyone in the Castillo family are main characters. His sister Loretta is the brilliant computer coder of the family and his Mom, Phoebe is the captain of the ship with a take charge personality setting a great example and encouraging her family on every mission.
During a speech in 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama stated that it is important for girls to understand that doctors and scientists are something that anyone can become, no matter how much money your family has, no matter where you come from, or whether you are a man or a woman.
But how do we get girls to understand this, how do we get them involved?
Simple. Give them opportunities to explore.
Christina Wallace and Nathalie Molina Nino lay out some ways to increase STEM involvement among girls in a recent Time Magazine article. “Creating STEM programming that engages girls earlier in their elementary and secondary-school education will help shift the classroom dynamic away from one that is majority boys and thus more welcoming to girls. Supporting interdisciplinary STEM projects—such as using computer programming in a science class to process or visualize a data set—will give students a better understanding of how these subjects are used in real life. Fostering career exploration activities will give some transparency to and highlight role models in careers that have high opportunity but are often less familiar to students.”
Another way to encourage girls to explore STEM is by celebrating girls who are already making great achievements in the field.
Meet a real-life inspiration, Danielle Koos, a 12-year-old student at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. She loves creating bracelets with the popular crafting toy, Rainbow Loom. She’s very creative using many different styles and colors. When her school implemented Crescerance’s Mad-Learn program in 2014, she was given the opportunity to create a mobile app. She decided to make an app to teach other people how to design with the popular crafting toy. The Rainbow Loom app is comprised of “how- to” videos and photos teaching people how to design bracelets and other trinkets. Her free App is available in both the Apple Store and Google Play and has been downloaded over 100,000 times!
“It is amazing to see the kinds of things that can happen when we give kids free rein,” said Crescerance CEO, Alefiya Bhatia.
Danielle came up with the concept, gained permission from Rainbow Loom to make an app about their product, and produced a very successful app being used aross the globe.
A study from Stanford University shows that among the girls and boys with the same mathematical achievement in test scores and grades, the girls assess themselves lower. Thus, bringing attention to one of the biggest issues that cause girls to shy away from STEM, low self-confidence. They don’t believe can do it!
Well, Danielle Koos and many others like her prove that they can. Check out my short list of digital STEM resources below.