Supporting Girls in STEM

July 31, 2018

Written by: Alicen Ricard

The future of STEM is in the hands of younger generations so we have to make sure that they stay. We’ve talked about how to get girls into STEM and how to retain women in STEM, but how do we keep girls interested in STEM so they grow up to go into these fields? This article had some ideas and was the inspiration for this post.

Source: Journal Times

It’s important to create a positive environment for girls to thrive in STEM fields. This study stresses the importance of girls and women having equal access to education in STEM fields. The access to education is improving, but isn’t there quite yet. Trends have increased for girls in education, but there is still a gender gap in STEM. In elementary school both girls and boys are exposed to the same amount of STEM classes, but as they enter high school and have more choice in what classes they take, less girls than boys continue to take these classes. Girls who take these classes in high school are more likely to continue to take them in post-secondary education, so we should be encouraging more girls at the high school level.

Sources: The Verge, GoldieBlox, Red Tricycle

Another way to support girls going into STEM is to encourage them to learn about STEM outside of the classroom. A great way to do that is with toys. There are so many great STEM toys out there. Hasbro has combined Disney Princesses and coding with their Dance Code Belle doll. It uses an app that teaches basic coding skills that will make the Belle doll dance. GoldieBlox has been trying to get girls into engineering since it launched in 2012. The toys, books, apps, and other media feature a girl engineer and teach mechanical engineering skills. The founder and CEO of the company, Debbie Sterling, is an engineer herself. Subscription boxes are wildly popular, and the popularity of STEM subscription boxes for kids (such as StemBox) is rising. StemBox is for girls ages 8-13 to expose them to different STEM careers through activities as well as educational videos and interviews.

Source: Science AL!VE

Along with STEM toys, you can also encourage girls into after school STEM clubs or activities. AMBL labs at UBC has a Girls Only Maker Camp, that was partially funded by us. Canada Learning Code has a great Girls Learning Code program that contains workshops, camps, and after school programs for girls from the age of 3-12. In Texas and Boston, there is a program called Girlstart, which is a year-round STEM after school program for kids K-12. They also have both after school programs and STEM camps. At SFU there is a student-run program called Science AL!VE which runs STEM workshops, clubs, programs, and camps for kids. Technovation is a yearly competition that teaches girls tech skills. Geering Up at UBC also does a Girls Only Maker Camp.  

Source: Teachers Who Tutor

It’s also important to give girls role models in STEM so they know they aren’t alone. If you’re in STEM, there are many ways you can encourage girls to go into these fields. You can volunteer for a mentor group like SCWIST's e-mentoring program. You can start specific STEM clubs and teach skills within whatever field it’s in. See if any of the existing clubs or camps need a volunteer. Even volunteering to be a tutor can be beneficial.

It doesn't take much. Just these small steps can help keep girls interested in STEM. They just need to remember they can do anything!

If you got into STEM at a young age, let us know what attracted you to it on Twitter or Facebook.