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Putting Down Roots for Girls in STEM

18 Mar 2015 by Shay Moser

We’ve marked National Women’s History Month with a blog series, first looking back to influential ladies who paved a path for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Last week we set our sights on females in tech roles today.

STEM

The blog, Modern Parents Messy Kids, gives the ultimate STEM toy guide by age.

Despite women’s early contributions to computing and those taking on technology careers now, a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce found only one in seven engineers are female. That’s why the nation is campaigning for higher numbers of women in STEM. And we’re sharing how individuals and groups, to startups and enterprises, are empowering girls in STEM.

Start early.
Research shows we become what we play with, which is what DevelopHer touts on its website. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit is to accelerate the creation of toys that engage girls while stimulating their interest in STEM. Roominate is another company turning technology into girl’s play. Goldi Blox gets girls building, too. Not surprising, the Girl Scouts also encourages girls of all ages.

Turn to tech role models.
Studies show girls benefit from relationships with role models and mentors who share important information about STEM careers. Take Women@NASA, for instance. It’s a collection of videos and essays showcasing women who work across a variety of NASA departments, as well as inspirational resources for girls in STEM.

Other company’s guide individuals and organizations in giving a boost to girls. One such business is FabFems, which offers a collection of resources for role models, educators and parents to inspire and educate girls in STEM courses and careers. MentorNet matches engineering and science students at the university level with mentors, and guides their one-on-one relationships over the Web. SciGirls trains role models and shares best practices for making a positive impact on girls in STEM. Million Women Mentors rallies organizations, government agencies, and non-profit and higher education groups to mentor girls and young women in STEM fields.

We STEMcould all learn more and join the discussion through forums. One example is The Huffington Post’s Girls in STEM Mentorship Program that highlights education and careers, the issues facing women and what it takes to mentor females in these fields.

Keep it up after K-12.
Many female students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects, or changing careers after they’ve earned an engineering degree or landed a job in a STEM field. Lack of ongoing encouragement through high school and workplaces are partly to blame. That’s why it’s crucial for adults in young girls’ lives to help cultivate their STEM roots. Check out what this high school in Massachusetts is doing. However, your support can be as simple as pointing out online resources, and news, facts and events in STEM to enrolling her in after-school STEM programs.

Team Up for STEM.
While girl-centered support is crucial for nurturing females, there are important approaches for both genders that also lend to inspiring one another, including:

  • People are turning to techJOYnT on Kickstarter.com to raise money to increase STEM presence in classrooms so more children will benefit from the program.
  • Arizona State University offers a program on their Polytechnic campus for students to receive hands-on, STEM experience and help build the STEM pipeline of future graduates.
  • Former NFL player, William White, works heavily with science_1
    Project Lead the Way, which is a non-profit company
    f
    ocusing on providing STEM curriculum to as many schools as possible. White travels all over the United States speaking to students about getting an education in STEM.
  • Insight teamed up with the Arizona Diamondbacks to deliver STEM education through a program called
    The Science of Baseball” to translate America’s love of baseball into an appreciation, understanding and passion of the science and mathematics underlying the sport.
  • President Obama set up a plan for STEM education: within a decade, increase the number of students and teachers who are proficient in STEM fields with the help of 13 partner agencies—including all of the mission science agencies and the Department of Education.

Though this is a thorough list of STEM resources and help—it’s definitely not exhaustive. But most importantly, we can all get behind the girl in our life right now, sans resources, by taking a genuine interest and encouraging her. The world needs women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Our future depends on their unique perspective.