Raising STEM girls today is of the utmost importance because STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is involved in our everyday lives and STEM girls are in demand. STEM based jobs are known to shape the world, impact lives, and solve everyday issues. We parents need to do our part to prepare our girls for this STEM driven world.
According to National Girls Collaborative Project, women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2016).
Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. Female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations than are men, with relatively high shares of women in the social sciences (62%) and biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences (48%) and relatively low shares in engineering (15%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%).
In college, I switched my major from Pharmacy to Computational Science because of my love for math. I also realize the major role that Computer Science plays in the workforce. The field of Computational Science was brand new at the time and I was the first to apply in my alma mater of SUNY Brockport.
I did not mind being the only female in the program because my Papa trained me to challenge the status quo and be a glass ceiling shatterer. When I walked on that stage to receive my degree with honors, I did not realize I was walking not only thanks the women in STEM and glass ceiling shatterers before me but also for the STEM girls glass ceiling shatterers after me.
God then blessed me with an amazing husband whose degree is in Software Engineering and 3 smart beauties I call daughters who are all about STEM. Fifteen years after I graduated from college, I can’t say that we have closed the STEM gap but Hubby and I are intentional in raising STEM girls.
Parents have to be intentional in fostering interest in STEM to children. I will share five tips that are helping Hubby and I in raising STEM girls:
- Parents as Role Models and Guides: I am not asking parents to go get a STEM degree. I am encouraging parents to keep children inspired with STEM by getting involved themselves. Hubby and I make sure to educate ourselves when it comes to STEM activities or resources we are not familiar with. We involve our girls in the process because it makes for hilarious learning opportunities. I am always advocating that we parents are our children’s first teachers and it’s so important for our children to see us take part in who we want them to become.
- STEM Activities at home: Once I realize how much my two oldest love to take apart (destroy sometimes) and build, I decided to create STEM stations in our home. We have a lego corner where we can find them during quiet time. It’s our toddler’s favorite station now. I encouraged them to create a Maker space where they can get creative with robotics, electronics fun like Little Bits and coding. Home science and engineering experiments also make for fun learning memories together.
- Science Museum Membership: A science museum membership or visit is a great way to reinforce STEM. This year we are proud members of Discovery Museum and Planetarium. Our girls enjoy spending time there learning and being curious. The best part is that Discovery Museum caters to children all ages and encourages family events throughout the year. The girls tell me that’s their happy place and this is all this STEM mom needs to hear. We visited Legoland in Westchester, NY this summer and it was one memorable trip to say the least. It was a day full of fun-tastic time for us as a family and we are thankful for that experience.
- STEM Summer Camps: Our girls attended their very first STEM camp this summer and they could not stop talking about all the STEM fun they were having. We signed them up for the Robotics week because that’s their current passion and interest. My oldest one was excited to experience the fun of flying a drone. She had so much fun building an airplane with her team that they put to the test later that day. My middle one enjoyed interacting with Dash and Dot robots so much that when we made a fun stop into an Apple Store (one of our girls’ favorite stops), she was excited to get reunited with Dash.
- STEM Programs and Events: Besides a science museum membership, we are always looking for STEM programs around that can inspire our girls. We attended a local Maker Faire and I can tell it’s the first of many because of the STEM sense of wonder they experienced that day. We are gearing up for a fun learning event at the Discovery Museum in anticipation of Eclipse Day and my girls can hardly wait. Our elementary school offers a wonderful Maker Space time for my oldest girl last school year and it was all she talked about.
As a mom, I believe wholeheartedly in who my daughters want to become so I make it my mission to encourage and inspire their passion and interests. Hubby and I happen to love STEM but I encourage parents to be involved as much as they can. There are so many STEM resources and tools to help in the journey to ensure that we assist our girls in making STEM part of their everyday lives.
Subscribe to STEM magazines like Scientific American. Look for inspiration reading through STEMinist or STEMettes. Make plans to attend one Girls in STEM conference to ignite the STEM fire in them. These are just few suggestions and the list is endless. Let’s make the STEM journey count because our girls are worth it. Here’s to inspiring and raising STEM girls together!
Healthy Whole NODte:”Behind every glass ceiling shatterer of a daughter who believes she can is an intentional parent who believed she could.” -LadyNOD