Driving Science Forward: Girls and Young Woman's Guide to STEM
Despite the increase in women’s presence in universities and the workforce, there is still an imbalance between the sexes when we look into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
In the US, women only comprise one-fifth of the entire STEM workforce. This trend starts early with women making up only thirty-five percent of undergrad holders in the fields, except for biology.
This imbalance is attributed to various social and environmental barriers that prevent women from pursuing a career in the sciences and engineering. More specifically, women have to struggle with the existing stereotypes, gender bias, and overall climate in university’s science departments.
Fortunately, there is a lot of effort both from within and outside academia to bridge this gender gap. If you are a parent or an educator looking to contribute to this cause, read on to discover ways and programs that will guide you in how to encourage girls and young women to enter STEM careers.
- Catalyst: Women In Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics (STEM)
- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: Women in Science statistics
Sparking an Interest
Much has been said about why girls begin thinking STEM jobs are more appropriate for boys. It is time to focus on ways to spark interest in them to begin focusing more on science and technology subjects.
At the school level, teachers are now being encouraged to incorporate some aspects of the humanities into science teaching methods to catch the attention of girls to help them learn and participate more. This initiative has been labeled STEAM with the additional A standing for the arts.
Another way teachers can encourage girls and young women is by using books in which women are represented in the fields. This helps to highlight the fact that not only men can be engineers, doctors, or scientists.
- AFCEA: Real talk about the STEM gender gap
- University of Nevada, Reno: Strategies for educators to support females in STEM
Extending Learning Opportunities
With the odds stacked against women succeeding in STEM fields, they need as much additional support as possible, whether in the form of special programs, mentorship opportunities, or extra classes.
Mentorship programs for girls in STEM has been proven to be effective in encouraging girls’ development of their interest in the sciences at an age when they tend to lose it. You can read more about this phenomenon and find resources about these programs in the links below.
- TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center: Special initiatives in mathematics and science education
- Harvard Kennedy School: The effectiveness of a one-year online mentoring program for girls in STEM
- University of Illinois Extension: STEM 2026: A vision for innovation in STEM education
Encouraging Interest through Books, Media, Games and More
Acknowledging the gender gap in information technology and engineering, there are now special interest groups with a main goal of getting girls and young women interested in pursuing careers in these fields.
In the resources for this section, you can find a database of websites about women and science which offers tons of links to online games, books, and other media.
- Edutopia: 12 inspiring STEM books for girls
- University of Maryland, Baltimore County: Women-related web sites in science/technology
Famous Women in STEM
There is nothing quite as motivating as seeing other women make it against the odds to succeed. Here are some inspirational and influential women who have made a name for themselves in male-dominated STEM fields:
Marie Curie: Pioneer physicist and chemist in the subject of radioactivity, first woman to win a Nobel prize, and only woman to win it twice; Marie Curie is an inspiration to women scientists worldwide.
Jane Goodall: An anthropologist and primatologist, she is known as a leading expert on chimpanzees and an avid animal welfare advocate.
Mae C. Jamison: Overcoming both race and gender obstacles, Jamison went on to become a doctor, an engineer, and the first black woman to travel in space.
Sara Seager: A professor, astronomer, and researcher; Seager has been recognized and awarded for her work on exoplanets and low-cost observatories.
Tiera Guinn: Despite being a student still, Guinn is already a working engineer with NASA.
- Jane Goodall: 5 powerful women in STEM you need to know
- Global Citizen: 17 top female scientists who have changed the world
- ECPI University: Famous woman of STEM
Inspirational Quotes from Women in STEM
Now, let us take a look inside the minds of these amazing women and the journey to their success through these inspirational quotes.
“We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”
“I would like to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to do what she wanted to do, and as someone who took risks along the way in order to achieve her goals.”
-Sally Ride, Physicist and NASA Pioneer
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.”
-Mae C. Jemison
Find more inspirational quotes from other successful women in the links below.
- The Aspen Institute New Voices Fellowship: 12 inspirational quotes from women who rock STEM
- Institute for Educational Advancement: Ten inspiring quotes from women in STEM
STEM Career Options
With technology advancing faster than ever before, demands for workers in certain STEM fields are growing yearly. Here are some well-paying professions that are also in high demand right now, and which women can go into with a STEM degree:
- Software developers, computer system support specialists, and analysts
- Civil engineers
- Mechanical engineers
- Medical scientists
- General practice doctors
Knowing what is out there can help girls and young women have a concrete vision of where they can be in the future should they decide to pursue studies in the STEM fields.
- Minnesota State University: Which STEM careers are in demand?
- Florida Tech: Top 10 career paths for STEM graduates
- Penn State University Libraries: Women in science: STEM options programs
Resources for Teachers and Parents
Your student or child’s success greatly depends on the encouragement and guidance they get from you early on in their education. Help them achieve their goals and find out about how you can guide them at every step of the way with the resources below.
- American University Washington, DC: What parents should know about STEM to help their children
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute: STEM resources for parents, educators, and students
- Western Governors University: 3 ways to excite and encourage girls in STEM in your classroom