10 Feb Future Women in STEM: How to Encourage Your Strong Girls to Do Big Things
Future Women in STEM: How to Encourage Your Strong Girls to Do Big Things
Did you know that February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science? In the past few years, schools around the world have begun offering or expanding their STEM programs. If you are unfamiliar with the STEM concept, it stands for education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
According to Catalyst.com, in the 2015-2016 school year, women made up about 35.5% of STEM Bachelor’s degree recipients. Although this number is steadily increasing, there is still a major gap between the number of men and women in various STEM fields.
So, what do you do if you notice that your daughter has shown a keen interest in a STEM field from an early age? Encourage her as much as you possibly can. Don’t let her be discouraged if she walks into an after-school STEM program and does not see herself represented. Our girls should know that they are the solution; the ones who can DO the representing. After all, until the 1960s, women did not make up much of the workforce in general but look where we are now.
1) Provide examples of the possibilities.
- Teach them about the notable, intelligent, and groundbreaking women in science both past and present. Sally Ride, the first woman in space. Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover the double helix of DNA. Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel prize in science (1903).
- Look to the media for headlines of women who are making a difference in the representation of women in STEM:
In December of 2019, Miss America contestant Camille Schrier took the audience by surprise when it was time for the talent round. She did not sing, dance, or stick to tradition in the least. Instead, she conducted a chemistry experiment, explaining, “Science is all around us! I’ve loved science since I was a little girl. It’s my mission to show kids that science is fun, relevant, and easy to understand”. Just a few minutes later, she was crowned Miss America 2020, making both national and international headlines.
- Point out the women you and your child see regularly who are working in STEM- Your doctors, nurses, STEM teachers, and so on.
“My mother really encouraged me to pursue my interests, as women in her generation were expected to give up their career passions when they got married… Every day, I feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love.” -Dr. Sara Star, of Highland Park Pediatric Associates
2) Accompany everyday activities with explanations. Guess what? Science is everywhere! Cooking dinner or baking dessert? That’s science! Explain why the water boils, why heat rises, how the brownie batter hardens in the heat of the oven and turns into a delicious treat!
3) Let them explore. Maybe they heard about an after-school program or a camp they would really like to attend. Look into it, and if it’s doable, let them try it out, even if you’re not sure if they will end up liking it.
4) Let them ask as many questions as they’d like, and do your best to provide answers, or if you don’t know, lead them to a source that will. Yes, kids ask a lot of questions. No, we may not have the answers to all of them, or we may grow tired of explaining every concept, but that’s how kids learn. Take them to a library to check out a book on the topic they’re interested in. Look up educational videos that they can watch. Remind them that there is always plenty out there to learn about.
5) Encourage curiosity.
“I didn’t want to just know the names of things. I remember really wanting to know how it all worked.” — Elizabeth Blackburn, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Join them in conducting science experiments at home. They don’t have to be “big” or “potent”. They don’t have to contain dangerous chemicals and should definitely not cause any reactions that could be a safety hazard in your home- We’ll leave those for the school labs with proper equipment.
Even something as teaching them the classic “volcano experiment” that many of us witnessed as kids- with kitchen items like vinegar, water, dish soap, food coloring, and baking soda. Stay tuned to our Facebook page throughout the week for fun, safe science experiments you can do with your kids!