SciGirls believes that families are partners in helping girls to pursue STEM studies. This list contains strategies and practical tips to help you encourage your girl to be STEMsational!
Why is STEM education so important?
Women only represent 26% of the STEM workforce. Encouraging women and others who are underrepresented to enter these fields will ultimately improve these professions, maximizing innovation to create products and services that are better representative of all users. In addition, jobs in these areas offer higher than average salaries, and employment in STEM occupations are expected to increase much faster than the overall growth rate for occupations.
At the most basic level, STEM attempts to answer how things work. The scientific and engineering processes offer a framework for understanding important ideas, big and small. In addition, while using these processes, young people learn how to plan, cooperate, communicate, problem solve, and apply their creativity.
In today’s society, it’s important for everyone to have basic scientific knowledge to continue to learn and to make informed decisions. Even if your girl chooses to go into another field, a foundation in STEM studies will serve her well in the future. Science literacy gives us a sense of empowerment to make a difference in our community and the world!
Springboard for Opportunities
New technologies are being invented every day; it’s impossible to anticipate what inventions may drive our culture in the next five or ten years. A strong foundation in STEM topics will open doors for career opportunities we don’t even know about yet. The workforce is changing quickly and new jobs that don’t even exist will be available to your girl. Being confident in STEM will help prepare her for possible opportunities.
While pursuing their own interests in STEM topics, young people can try new things, meet engaging people, and go to interesting places. Programs like SciGirls can provide fun, engaging STEM activities that differ from the formal classroom setting. Activities such as designing a scientific investigation, creating a solution to a technical problem or visiting with a female scientist or engineer can inspire girls and allow them to see STEM in a different light.
How can you support her in STEM?
Encourage your girl’s natural curiosity about the world. Scientists and engineers are professional question askers and problem solvers. Let your girl know that it’s perfectly acceptable not to have all the answers, and encourage her to explore and discover! Celebrate all attempts at trying new things. Even if you aren’t comfortable with STEM, be positive.
Encourage her to Pursue STEM in School
Expect girls to do well in STEM and communicate your expectations clearly. With the growing importance of science and technological literacy, it is important to spark and strengthen girls’ engagement, interest, and confidence in STEM subjects in elementary and middle school. Once in high school, your girl will make choices that will either open or close doors to STEM studies and career choices. Having a strong knowledge base in STEM topics will give your girl the opportunity to access any career path she chooses, with confidence. Help her see the connections between STEM classes and future career options. Start early!
Help Access STEM Opportunities
Great STEM learning opportunities can be found outside the classroom. Learning opportunities for kids can be found at science museums, zoos, scouting organizations, and STEM clubs during after-school hours, weekends, and summer breaks. These programs often provide girls with introductions to working female mentors who can help girls navigate the course of becoming a scientist or engineer.
Connect her to a Role Model/Mentor
Seeing women who have succeeded in STEM helps inspire and motivate girls, especially when they can relate to these role models as people with lives outside of work. Role models and mentors not only broaden girls’ views of who does science, but expand girls’ vision of what’s possible in their own lives. You can share role models with your girl by reading biographies, looking at video and text profiles online and watching tv shows (fictional and documentary) that feature female STEM role models. Talk with family, neighbors, friends and community members that work in STEM fields and ask them questions about what they do and how they got there.