Encouraging Your Girls into STEM: How STEM Education Can Empower Young Women and Brighten their Futures

Thursday, August 23, 2018 | 8:11 pm

The energetic efforts to encourage girls and women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) over recent years have achieved some success. Despite this, women remain underrepresented in the workforce in STEM fields, and many girls still feel discouraged from following educational programs in the sciences and technology. Why is this? And what can be done to address it?

According to the National Science Foundation, although more women participate in biological sciences, there is a shortfall of women in the physical sciences, and they are severely underrepresented in engineering and computer technology. These latter two fields are also the areas predicted for the highest rates of job growth and greatest shortages in qualified applicants.

Where do these differences in gender representation come from? This is a complex socio-cultural issue but, unsurprisingly, gender biases and a pay gap play their parts in causing some women to leave STEM fields. However, the problems start much earlier than the workplace. Cultural stereotypes hardwired into our society tell girls as young as six that they are not as good as boys when it comes to science, math, and technology. Yet, in fact, girls perform just as well or better in these areas. This misconception of their own abilities has discouraged too many girls from developing an interest in these subjects. And this is not the only reason girls may be put off a career in STEM; the lack of female role models is a major factor, coupled with the many misconceptions of what STEM careers and scientists are like.

A recent study by Microsoft found that extra-curricular STEM education gives many advantages to girls, providing significant increases in girls’ perceptions of their own abilities and the relevance of STEM careers. The STEM approach, which is different from traditional science lessons often seen in schools, makes learning accessible through hands-on activities and real-world problem-solving that brings science alive for students. This approach also demonstrates that a STEM career can involve creativity and making positive impacts on the world, which have been found to be particularly important to girls and young women.

Another key aspect of STEM education for girls, is the focus on a “growth mindset,” which views ability as something that can be developed through practice, rather than being fixed. Much research has demonstrated that promoting this viewpoint is vital in allowing girls to overcome gender stereotypes and build on their belief in their ability to work to achieve results.

Addressing these needs, STEM World, Pasadena’s leading STEM education center, is providing a girls-only program for ages 8+. STEM Girlz workshops will run on Fridays from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., starting September 7th, covering robotics, biology, chemistry, engineering, and programming, as well as other exciting STEM subjects. The STEM World approach focuses on fun, practical activities, encouraging students to learn by making mistakes – fostering that “growth mindset” that girls especially need. The workshops will allow students to make connections between their learning and their real lives, providing a comfortable environment for young women to collaborate, ask questions, be creative, and grow.

Encouraging girls in STEM is not about forcing them down a career path. It is about developing powerful skills that are valuable in all areas of life. Allowing girls to experience good-quality STEM education will develop their confidence and overcome those stereotypes that might otherwise tell them they are not capable. It provides girls with the options to pursue whatever path they choose.

Sign up for STEM Girlz here.

STEM World is located at 2245 E. Colorado Blvd., Unit 101, in Pasadena. For more information call (626) 247-4347 or visit https://www.stemworld.net/index.htm.








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