As an outsourced IT company, we are obviously fans of the STEM fields, and with a women founder and CEO we are especially passionate about getting more girls in STEM (and we might be a little biased toward information technology 😉). Women still make up less than 30% of careers in the STEM fields and computer and software careers are even lower, ranging from about 18% – 25%.[1]

Unintentional or not, this gap stems (pun unintended) from societal expectations, stereotypes, and education. If you ask someone, what do you picture when I say “IT technician”, most will describe a nerdy white male with glasses, even if they are of the mindset that women (and men and women of color for that matter) are just as capable of pursuing and succeeding in those careers.

So, how do we change this? Early exposure and parents and mentors.

Early Exposure

Let’s start with early exposure. A study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute[2] found that girls who were interested in STEM topics were more likely to have done hands-on science activities when they were younger, gone to science/tech museums, and engaged in an extracurricular STEM activity.

Here are several links to websites that provide STEM activities for kids.

  1. At Home STEM Challenges http://stemlikeagirl.org/category/stem-challenge-of-the-month/
  2. SciGirls https://pbskids.org/scigirls/
  3. Design Squad https://pbskids.org/designsquad/
  4. NASA – STEM Activities You Can Do At Home https://www.nasa.gov/stem
  5. Kodable https://www.kodable.com/

Parents and Mentors

Now let’s discuss the role parents and mentors play in getting more girls in STEM fields. The same study from the Girl Scout Research Institute found that girls interested in STEM topics receive more career support and encouragement. Moms, dads, siblings, and family members in general have a particularly strong influence in this area. Mentors also help make those fields seem more realistic and feasible and can help bridge the gap between interest in STEM and careers in STEM.

In a recent Facebook Live with Abigail Spurgus, she mentioned being a STEM cheerleader for kids. This helps not only encourage them to pursue STEM, but provides them confidence to keep going if they don’t succeed right away. Check out the video to hear more about Abigail’s experience in STEM and the support she was provided. https://www.facebook.com/BSSI1/videos

We encourage you go out and become STEM cheerleaders! Encourage girls to ask questions about the world, to problem solve, and to use creativity through play and experimentation.

 

[1] Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) (August 4, 2020).
[2] Generation STEM, What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, Kamla Modi, Ph.D., Judy Schoenberg, Ed. M., Kimberlee Salmond, M.P.P., Girl Scout Research Institute.