Representation matters everywhere, and nowhere is it more important than in the workforce. As the U.S. faces a shortage of STEM workers, female STEM workers are particularly underrepresented. But to get girls in STEM, they have to see themselves in the field.
Female students aren’t motivated to study STEM in college or pursue STEM careers if their classes or career fields are made up of a sea of white men. No representation means fewer girls in STEM–women make up almost 50 percent of the workforce, but hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs.
Many people leave Disney World dreaming of becoming a princess, but when I experienced Disney for the first time as a three-year-old, I left the parks with a different dream: to become an engineer. I was enamored by the rides and became obsessed with learning how everything—from the roller coasters to the teacups—fit together and worked.
While I knew I wanted to be an engineer, I didn’t know which type of engineer I wanted to be. Fortunately, my parents handled my interest in engineering in the same way they handled other extracurricular activities: by finding every opportunity for me to learn about and experience engineering. Over the next decade, I learned about engineering by interviewing current engineers, going to summer camps, and absorbing information online.
When I was 13, I read a paragraph-long description about industrial engineering and knew what I wanted to do with my life. Today, I’m a senior industrial engineering student at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made in my teens.…Read More
One teacher describes the big impact robotics, coding, and STEM has had on her students
I love every aspect of programming—the frustration, the creativity, everything. I taught myself and now I’m lucky enough to teach students how to code, build robots, and design mobile apps. I’m there to guide them, but the students, like me, are really learning these skills through their own hard work.
I think everyone should learn how to program and of course I’m no exception. My transformation from librarian-turned-tech facilitator to coding teacher started with a back room full of old busted computers. My school didn’t know what to do with them so I decided to fix them up and make them useful. Then I started thinking, “What else can I do?” I read something about Arduino and soon I was tinkering with parts, building, and programming anything I could get my hands on. It became a hobby.
When I moved to Plaquemine High School, near Baton Rouge, our principal had just written a big grant for the Dow Corp. to create a STEM program featuring elective classes in robotics and game design for 9-12th graders. When we got it, he asked me to design the curriculum, attend trainings, and teach the courses. It was a dream come true. Now I get to help students develop the creativity, logic, critical thinking, and career skills they need for the future. Here are seven reasons why every school should consider doing the same.…Read More
More girls are needed in STEM fields–and engagement begins in the early grades
STEM education is important–in fact, it is essential to U.S. economic success. Today’s K-12 STEM students are tomorrow’s college STEM undergraduates and leading STEM innovators in the workforce.
Most STEM fields are traditionally male-dominated, and research has found that fostering an interest in STEM learning when students are still young makes those students more likely to pursue STEM majors and STEM careers.
Part of the trick to pulling more girls into STEM fields is getting rid of the stereotype that these subjects and careers are male-dominated. Educators, too, must encourage female students to nurture their interests in STEM fields. The stereotype that “boys are better at math” is incredibly detrimental. Having strong STEM teachers who are enthusiastic about and confident in the subjects they teach can encourage girls to get involved in STEM, too.…Read More