STEM. It’s all everyone seems to be talking about right now in regards to parenting and raising children, and for good reason. As technology advances, more and more jobs of the future appear to be headed down the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) path.
There’s just one problem: girls are significantly less likely to choose a STEM career than boys. In the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, women currently make up only less than a quarter of the workforce. With about 80 percent of mid-level jobs – including those that do not require a college degree – requiring STEM skills, we need to get serious about getting our girls on the STEM train.
We know not every girl will want to pursue a STEM career building robots, coding computers, or working in a chem lab – and that’s perfectly okay! However, STEM is everywhere, so we do believe that every girl should be exposed to and encouraged to participate in STEM activities to become more comfortable with STEM concepts and learn to apply them in a wide variety of fields she might be more interested in.
So how can you help her reach her STEMinist potential?
Everything starts at home.
Kids pick up on everything we do and their home experiences shape how they view the world and themselves. Mom and other female family members need to be really careful about complaining in front of their girls that they are “no good at math.”
Also, maybe not all of the tech projects around the house like hooking up a new wifi router or installing a TV should be delegated to dad or other males in the family. Recent surveys show that 53% of boys believe they are the digital experts in their families versus only 38% of girls. You don’t want to perpetuate this idea by having her think that STEM activities are just for boys and not for her because she only sees males taking on these home projects.
If you are unfamiliar with some of these subjects, learn them alongside your girl. Showing a personal interest in gaining new STEM skills and setting that example could very well ignite her enthusiasm. Plus, you’ll have an incredible bonding experience as you both learn something new together.
Give her some STEMinist role models.
Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book or snuggling on the couch watching a riveting movie? When helping your girl decide on what to read and watch, guide her to choose stories with strong female characters in STEM. From female scientist, engineers, technological geniuses, astronauts, and more, there are many books and movies to choose from that depict women in these roles. It doesn’t have to stop at fiction either. Choose kid-friendly biographies about some of the most famous STEM women including computer scientist Grace Hopper, primatologist Jane Goodall, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and so many more.
Show her the STEMinist side.
Your girl most likely already loves STEM and doesn’t even know it.
Does she want to be a fashion designer? Great! Make sure she hones in on those math skills to make precise measurements when cutting material and patterns, as well as her engineering skills when designing with different types of fabrics.
Does she want to open her own bakery someday? Awesome! Make sure she knows the important role chemistry plays to make the perfect confections and how precise her math skills have to be for accurate measurements to keep her recipes perfect.
Does she want to be a veterinarian? Perfect! Her idea of a scientist might just be someone working in a research lab or a person cracking computer codes – she may not realize that being a veterinarian goes far beyond petting cats and dogs all day (which totally sounds amazing!). Make sure she understands the complex scientific concepts she will have to understand in order to heal the animals she loves including biology, chemistry, and more. Then help her learn those concepts!
Be a Girl Scout and remain a Girl Scout.
It has been shown that girls who are Girl Scouts have a higher interest in STEM fields than non-Girl Scouts due to more regular exposure and skill development. While some of this interest does dip slightly for Girl Scouts between the middle and high school years (61% to 59%), this drop is very slight in comparison to non-Girl Scouts (52% to 31%).
If you’re reading this, you most likely have already taken a crucial step in helping your girl reach her STEMinist potential by making her a Girl Scout. However, you could be here because you are interested in learning more about Girl Scouts and how our effective leadership program can help your girl become one of courage, confidence, and character who makes the world a better place.
With our new STEM badges, STEM-focused signature programs, and a national leader who is a former rocket scientist (read more about GSUSA Chief Executive Officer, Sylvia Acevedo), we want to make sure every girl has the opportunity to love STEM and gain confidence in her science, technology, engineering, and math skills.
If your girl is already a Girl Scout, or is on her way to becoming one, make sure she stays one all the way through her senior year. We are committed to bringing STEM learning opportunities to girls of all grade levels for years and years to come to prepare them with the STEM skills they will need for a myriad of potential future careers. Want to travel this journey with your girl? Become a troop leader or volunteer and bond while she realizes her future career path in Girl Scouts!
Credit: Read the original GSUSA blog post on this subject, “Raise Her to Be a STEMinist.“