The history of STEM is filled with amazing women who revolutionized our understanding of science. Take Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers who went on to become a rear admiral in the United States Navy. Chien-Shiung Wu was a renowned physicist who helped crack the secrets of nuclear physics. Alice Ball saved countless lives by developing a treatment for leprosy, while Ynés Mexía gave us a better understanding of the many plants which make up our environment. The list goes on, and only grows more extraordinary!
Unfortunately, women only make up 28 percent of the STEM workforce. This is because many young girls have struggled to engage with STEM while in school. The reasons for this are numerous, from forced stereotypes to a lack of role models.
As a result, many young women are missing their chance to pursue STEM in higher education, and the world is poorer for it. So, how can educators take steps to correct this imbalance?
One way is by introducing new strategies into the classroom that make STEM learning a priority and encouraging young girls to get involved. Here are just a few ideas to help educators get started:
Redefine STEM: STEM is more than just a career choice. It is more than an acronym. It is a way of thinking. STEM is being able to ask questions, think critically, and creatively. Problem solving is at the heart of STEM. So, start there….at the heart! The best way to start at the heart of STEM is to focus on the scientific Habits of Mind. These are the skills that scientists would argue are more important than science content to be a successful scientist.
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