Driving Science Forward: Girls and Young Woman’s Guide to STEM

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

-Marie Curie

“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.

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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.

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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.

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