(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) first became a focus in US education during the Cold War, but in recent years the focus has shifted to training and supporting female and minority students. It is known that female students are significantly less likely to pursue a STEM career, while male students are three times more likely to be interested in a STEM career. Despite the increase in awareness regarding the lack of female presence in STEM fields the gap is significantly increasing at an alarming rate. So, what are some ways as teachers that you can encourage female students to pursue a STEM career?
Tips for Encouraging Your Female Students in STEM
- Tell them about women's achievements in math and science
- Teach your female students that with effort and focus they can achieve in the sciences
- Promote a growth-mindset environment
- Prepare them to face stereotypes in the workforce and in school
- Encourage your students to develop their spatial skills, by using spatial language, so that they may visualize the world around them accurately
- Guide your students to advance in career-relevant subjects that they have a particular skill for
- Encourage older teenage girls to take calculus, physics, chemistry, computer science, and engineering classes when available
- Inform your students that pursuing a STEM career takes earnest effort and drive
-Emily Muggleton, Mechanical Engineering Major with a Minor in Aerospace, Rising Fourth Year.
We agree with Emily. Here are some amazing women currently working in STEM fields that you can use to inspire your female students.
When Brittany was 15 her cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. In just 2 years Brittany had designed an artificial brain to detect signs of breast cancer. This amazing invention took home first prize in the 2012 Google Science Fair! Her artificial brain tester is now in beta tests with two cancer research centers, and she is majoring at Duke University in computer science.
You may know her from the show "The Big Bang Theory" but you may not know that she is a real scientist! She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. She taught for several years and wrote a book for parents about the science of hormones. She travels and gives lectures on the importance of integrating
yourself into STEM careers.
Jennifer Lopez is a molecular biologist working for NASA. Jennifer founded the first class of "datanauts", data scientists who learn and understand more about the exponential numerals of the universe. What's even better is that the "datanauts" are all women.
The Future of Women in STEM
It is very important for your female students to have positive STEM role models to inspire them to go down a male dominated and challenging path. A STEM career, although challenging, is rewarding in many ways. STEM fields are usually high paying and prestigious jobs that hold a lot of respect in the workforce. It is expected that by the year 2024, STEM jobs will grow 17% in the US. Encourage your female students to take classes that will get them excited to start a course to a STEM career. You could be instructing the next molecular biologist at NASA!