Educators can take a number of steps to help girls retain an interest in STEM topics

girls-stemAfter their first week of coding class, 20 high school girls taught their robots to dance to The Cupid Shuffle. Cupid chanted, “To the right to the right to the right,” and the little red robots turned right. He sang “To the left to the left to the left,” and the robots turned left. But it wasn’t the song the robot was following, it was the instructions the girls wrote out in code to match the song.

During a seven-week summer course put on by the national organization Girls Who Code and hosted by Florida International University, the students conferred with each other as they puzzled out solutions and wrote lines of code at the front of the classroom so the others could follow their logic, then in small groups, tested their results on the robots.

That high school juniors and seniors studying computers wasn’t unusual. What made this class different was that it was aimed at giving girls more confidence in what remains an overwhelmingly male, and sometimes hostile, field — one that trails engineering, medicine and most other sciences in opening career doors for young women.

Next page: Where are women and girls when it comes to STEM degrees?