5 Tips for Empowering Girls into a Path in STEM
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Empowering Girls for a Path in STEM - 5 Tips

7 min read
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A recent report by Microsoft stated that girls and young women are still less likely to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. 58% of female students believe that jobs that require programming and coding are “not for them”. As a parent, you want your child to believe they can be anything they set their minds to, so while might not surprising, this percentage is a disappointing revelation for progressive parents with young girls today. We want to change the history books for our children, and we can! This Microsoft report has inspired us to pull together some of the tips to help empower our young girls in knowing they can be game changers in STEAM.

Role Models

Girls and young women can find it hard to picture themselves in STEM roles. Girls prefer encouragement from women working in STEM (56%) over encouragement from their parents (47%) or even their friends (44%). However, because of the underrepresentation of women in STEM today, young girls often don't have influential people in their lives to serve as inspiration for this path. As the famous American Activist, Marian Wright Edelman, said; “You can’t be what you can’t see”. Seeing women work in STEM reminds girls they have a place in these fields if they choose it!

Try showing them these role models, near or far. Whether it's an aunt who is a kick ass engineer, a YouTube video telling the life of a famous female scientist or a Club (like Designer Minds!) where women lead as mentors in topics of STEAM education.

Generate Excitement

Studies have shown that girls want to be creative and have a positive impact on the world. Many of these girls don't realise that STEM and computer science careers can give them exactly that. They are out there trying to help the world. We’re not trying to be biased but we’re pretty sure they can achieve this through work in STEM! Sometimes young girls can get lost in the theorems and equations, and fail to see the big picture of how these learnings can be used in exciting life changing ways!

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Source: Microsoft

As a team that work and run STEAM camps, clubs and online clubs for kids, we have asked lots of parents about the experience their children have had. If we could pinpoint one word that keeps coming back to us it's ‘buzzing’. This is the excitement we need to attach to STEM education. It's fun, and dare we say, COOL! The following quote from a parent perfectly captures that excitement and the power it has to influence a young girl's future.
"My daughter absolutely loved the camp, she came home every day full of excitement regaling us with each days adventures. I wish school would engage her as much. She has now decided she wants to be a forensic scientist! I couldn't recommend this camp highly enough, the perfect blend of education and fun. Thank you very much, we will be back :)"

Provide Hands-On Experience

Microsoft’s independent research also showed that Girls who take part in STEM clubs and activities outside of school are more likely to say they will pursue STEM subjects later in their education. Parents can bring this into their child's lives by checking out clubs and camps near you, or by going online and checking out some remote online clubs. Girls can demystify topics by living them, experiencing them and creating with them. When this is done, STEM becomes much less intimidating.

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Source: Microsoft

Provide Encouragement

Girls who feel supported by teachers and parents show more interest in continuing with STEAM learning in their future. Over half of teenage girls said they are often encouraged by their mothers and teachers. But not as many of the girls report encouragement from their fathers. Let's give them the support they need from all angles - teachers and parents!

Encourage a "Growth Mindset"

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). Girls are willing to work hard to succeed so we need to create environments where questions, discovery and even failure are treated as positive parts of the learning process, not an indicator that they are not cut out for STEM. We have a whole blog post on how to encourage a growth mindset in your children, check it out here.

These facts from Microsoft are hard to take but we know the STEM community in Ireland and worldwide are strong and are changing the history for women in STEM every day. At Designer Minds most recently, our STEAM clubs hit 37% girls attendance and we too aim to move that number towards 50% every day with activities and challenges that are always inclusive to any gender or identity. If you have a girl (or boy) that would be interested in signing up, check out our clubs here.

If you know or work with companies like Microsoft and are looking to support developing children in STEM, we would love to partner on community STEAM initiatives! Reach out through this form.

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At Designer Minds most recently, our STEAM clubs hit 37% girls attendance and we too aim to move that number towards 50% every day with activities and challenges that are always inclusive to any gender or identity. If you have a girl (or boy) that would be interested in signing up, check out our clubs here.
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