Inspire Girls To Pursue STEM Fields
Around 60% of girls lose interest in STEM by age 15. Why do you think this is?
Girls are often fascinated by STEM at a young age but don’t pursue anything due to gender stereotypes and a lack of direction in the field.
Help inspire girls to pursue fields in STEM by rewriting the story, introducing goal setting, and encouraging critical and creative thinking!
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Clickable)
Rewrite the Story to Inspire Girls to Pursue Fields in STEM
- Gender Stereotypes
- Female Role Models
Introduce Goal Setting to Inspire Girls to Pursue Fields in STEM
- Fixed Versus Growth Mindset
- Welcome Imperfection and Rethink Challenges
Encourage Critical and Creative Thinking to Inspire Girls to Pursue Fields in STEM
- What is Critical Thinking?
- What is Creative Thinking?
- Hands-On Experiments
Rewrite the Story to Inspire Girls to Pursue STEM Fields
Changing the narrative of women working in STEM begins with you!
How you present and talk about women working in STEM can make a world of difference to your student. As a role model in their life, your student looks up to you to learn how to act and define themselves.
Remember that representation matters, and words are a powerful tool to inspire and build self-esteem!
To rewrite the story, you can work to end gender stereotypes, show female role models, and reinforce positive communication styles at school or in your home.
What is a gender stereotype?
A gender stereotype is a general view or assumption about which characteristics should be assigned to women and men. For example, a common gender stereotype is that boys are smarter than girls.
Children pick up on gender stereotypes between the ages of 6 and 10. By age 8, they are aware of how their gender is perceived and how they should act within those boundaries.
Common gender stereotypes in STEM include:
· Girls are not interested in STEM.
· Boys understand STEM concepts easier.
· STEM fields are not feminine.
When girls are told that STEM isn’t for them, they become unmotivated in math and science. Their confidence levels drop, and they start to pursue other subjects, such as reading or writing.
Not only does it hurt their career dreams, it also negatively impacts their sense of belonging and identity.
Introducing female role models in STEM is a great way to strengthen girls’ self-confidence.
Female Role Models
Role models are extremely important when building a sense of identity. With the right examples, kids can dream and envision who they want to be when they grow up. When girls don’t see themselves represented in STEM roles in real life or in the media, they believe that it is unnatural or weird for them to pursue STEM. To avoid judgment from their peers, they will choose a different path even if STEM interests them.
Fix this issue by showing your girl student female role models working in STEM industries. Women make up 44% of STEM workers and have made great advances and discoveries in the world of science, technology, engineering, and math. Although women are still a minority in STEM, you can help the new generation level the playing field! Are you unsure which female role models to teach them about?
Here is a list of four women that have worked towards making the world a better place through STEM:
Susan La Flesche Picotte
In 1889, Picotte was named valedictorian of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She was the first American Indian woman to obtain a medical degree in the U.S.
Picotte decided to pursue a career in medicine after witnessing a white doctor refuse to treat an Indian woman.
Her achievements include providing care to over 1,200 people in Omaha and opening her private practice to treat both white and non-white patients equally.
Of 2,500 employees at NASA in the 1950s, Annie was one of four African Americans. Easley worked at NASA for 34 years as a mathematician and computer technician.
Her coding helped to improve power technologies and battery storage life. As a part of the Centaur project, she helped improve communication through space satellites.
Due to not receiving equal pay at NASA, Easley started an outreach program for minorities and worked as an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor.
Shirley Ann Jackson
In 1973, Jackson was the first African American woman at MIT to receive her Ph.D.
Shirley worked at Bell Laboratories as a theoretical physicist. While there, she developed a system for making sure nuclear power plants were safe.
In 2016, Shirley won the President’s National Medal of Science for her work in physics!
Scientists consider Hopper to be the pioneer of computer programming. Hopper was the inventor of the first computer program that allowed computers to read rewritten words as codes.
In 1991, Hopper received the highest honor for her achievements in technology, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation!
Now that you have shown your student positive female role models in STEM, communicate the importance of working in STEM.
Communication is key when rewriting the story of girls working in STEM. The language you use to talk about STEM is vital to how they will perceive themselves in the workforce. Don’t refer to STEM fields as masculine, nerdy, or unachievable. Talking about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a positive, inclusive light will help girls realize that the space is for them, too.
Introduce Goal Setting to Inspire Girls to Pursue STEM Fields
Fixed Versus Growth Mindset
To change the mindset of your student, it is important to know the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is when people are convinced that the intelligence and skill levels they currently have can’t develop or progress. Those with a fixed mindset have troubles growing and learning because they shut down and give up when they make mistakes.
However, a growth mindset is the opposite. Those with a growth mindset are taught that they can continue to better themselves and develop new talents and skillsets. When challenges arise, students with a growth mindset can solve complex issues and respond well to criticism.
Too often, girls are raised to have a fixed mindset. Stereotypes such as “boys understand STEM better” are internalized and thought to be the truth. This causes girls to believe that they cannot progress in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
So instead of working towards their goals, they choose to give up and choose different career paths.
Welcome Imperfection and Rethink Challenges
Instill a growth mindset by promoting:
- Teach your student that mistakes are expected and welcomed. Mistakes help us to learn and grow.
- Allow students the time to reflect on how they are progressing. By giving them the space they need to evaluate their failures and successes, they can create better processes for next time.
- Don’t praise students for being smart or reprimand them for getting an answer wrong. Instead, emphasize learning and creating systems for growth.
- Don’t call hard problems “challenges.” Instead, call them opportunities. Finding the answer and working through complex issues is a chance for a learning opportunity.
By thinking critically and creatively, girl students can see their challenges as the opportunities they are.
Encourage Critical and Creative Thinking to Inspire Girls to Pursue STEM Fields
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is when you can draw conclusions and evaluate your situation based on your observations, experiences, and reflections.
Teaching girl students to think critically allows them to connect their ideas and organize them in a way that promotes problem solving.
Critical thinking, includes:
- Asking questions
- Gathering evidence
- Leaving out emotions
- Reflecting on solutions
- Thinking actively
Once they can think clearly and connect their ideas, you can teach them how to transition into creative thinking.
What is Creative Thinking?
Creative thinking is the ability to think of new ideas and solutions.
Let your student take the reins and open your space to allow them to come up with their own ideas.
Thinking creatively encourages students to:
- Consider other viewpoints
- Express themselves
- Take risks
- Value innovation
- Want to learn
When people think about STEM, creativity isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. However, the ability to look at challenges with an open-mind and see a path instead of roadblocks is an important and valuable skill.
To learn more about the link between creativity and STEM, check out our other blog, “How STEM Learning Promotes Success.”
Critical and creative thinking enforce positivity and focusing on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses. Now that we have learned about the benefits of the two ways of thinking, let’s look at how to voice our solutions in a collaborative space.
Boys are more likely to participate in class than girls. They tend to give their opinion more and believe that they add more value to the classroom. Why is this?
Studies show that both teachers and parents give boys more praise and attention than they do girls. Girls are regarded in a more critical light, which causes them to become quieter in the classroom and at home.
When girls feel as though their environment doesn’t value their ideas, they won’t speak out. Create an atmosphere that appreciates their feedback and allows them to collaborate efficiently with their peers.
A great way to initiate collaboration and group activities is by engaging students in hands-on experiments.
My First Lab believes that hands-on experiments are an effective and fun way to convey information to students!
Students can develop a deeper understanding of science when they see it working with their own eyes, instead of reading or hearing about it. Their learning then becomes more dependent on the evidence in front of them and allows them to draw their own conclusions.
Hands-on experiments will allow girls to gain confidence in their science skills. We have various experiments available here on our blog.
My First Lab’s Mission
My First Lab aims to provide equal education for both boys and girls in the classroom. Our lab equipment and experiments are designed and created to inspire students to engage with science-related topics.
Inspire girls to pursue STEM by teaching them that their conclusions matter. Allow them the space to share their ideas and opinions and formulate solutions.
To rewrite the story, show your girl student female role models they can look up to, change your communication style, teach them about the growth mindset, and work to create an atmosphere that values and encourages their critical and creative thinking.
Remember: changing the narrative begins with you!
My First Lab has been a leader in developing STEM equipment for the past 30 years. With products ranging from microscopes and bundles to prepared slides and accessories, we are sure to have any product that a junior investigator, hobbyist, or educational leader could need. Learn how to create hands-on experiments by browsing our blog or checking out our award-winning products.