Encouraging Girls to Pursue STEM Fields
October 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
For as long as I can remember, my parents always encouraged me to pursue any degree that I wanted. At home, I always had the support that I needed to keep me interested in engineering–which I knew is what I wanted to study in college. The one thing that could have possibly stopped me from following my dream however, was the little encouragement that I received in school. Because of the strong support that I had at home, joining robotics clubs or coding clubs where I was the only girl was never a big issue for me. For my other friends however, it was. I remember taking engineering courses in high school while my best friends were in Early Childhood and Development courses, or joining clubs like the Academic Team while others were in dance. Don’t get me wrong, the Academic Team or engineering courses were just as great as theater and education courses! My only problem was that they weren’t advertised to girls as they were to guys! The only reason why I was still interested in engineering throughout high school was because I stuck through it despite knowing that it was a male dominated field.
According to a recent article on Womens enews, women only take up about 20 percent of bachelor degrees and only about twenty five percent of jobs in STEM fields. This is due in part to girls’ interest in these subjects being “squashed” after middle school. The author, Justina Nixon- Saintil, goes on to suggest that this situation can be reversed with the help of technology.
With constant discoveries and innovations in technology happening every day, it becomes easier for younger generations to get more involved in mobile technology use. Doing so will also encourage young girls to stay interested in STEM by the time they reach college. Verizon developed an “App Challenge” to encourage just that. In this challenge, boys and girls were encouraged to design their own apps for mobile devices. Studies of the challenge showed that over half of the winners of the challenge were girls. These girls came up with apps that could do a variety of things from helping with time management skills to improving study skills.
Providing opportunities such as the App Challenge encourages girls to stay interested in STEM subjects–enough to have them want to pursue careers in STEM fields. It does away with the intimidation that some girls may feel about the science, technology, engineering and math fields and empowers women to keep striving for these careers despite what the social norm portrays. By having these technology based teaching methods and challenges, not only are we encouraging girls to join STEM fields, but we are also encouraging those girls that have already decided to do so to continue on their track to have a career in these subjects. Had these types of opportunities been presented throughout my grade school career, I am sure that more girls would have been more open to joining these courses. Essentially, more and more women will be making a difference in these fields.
– Jennifer C.