It’s no secret that the global STEM sector has struggled with female representation.
With many educators fighting for a future that includes female science, tech, engineering and mathematics graduates, how are schools preparing young girls for the future of STEM?
Recently, the United Nations (UN) held the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which this year harboured the theme of Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.
As the information page explains, “At present, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014 – 2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students selects STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent).”
Since the gender gap is still wide open, organisations like the UN are raising awareness of the issue and doing all they can to enhance the educational experiences of young female students everywhere.
How to keep female school students encouraged
Motivation is a resourceful ingredient.
In order to keep the future female STEM workforce engaged, it’s a good idea for schools to run empowering programmes and surround them with influential role models.
According to Dr. Elanna Yalow, Chief Academic Officer at KinderCare, and her colleague Theresa Maves, it’s a good idea to implement a variety of techniques in the classroom to strengthen interest in STEM disciplines.
Yalow and Maves recently stated that schools must, “Celebrate the accomplishments of women who made considerable advances in STEM and remind girls that STEM doesn’t only live in a laboratory, research centre, or technology company,” for effective impact.
They also add that STEM is a pipeline to our future and that “We need brilliant scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists to address the problems our planet faces and to envision and create a better future – and to do so we must unlock the potential in all of our children, both girls and boys.”
Surround students with a supportive STEM sphere
Before surrounding young female students with STEM concepts, teachers must be mindful of the fact that not every child will be interested in these subjects.
There will be plenty of artistic thinkers and literary geniuses trying to escape the confines of science, technology, engineering and maths!
But that’s not to say that STEM should be set aside as a secondary focus.
By dedicating a lesson a week to educate children on STEM-based trends, inviting influential female figures in the field and implementing awe-inspiring projects that will make them gasp, schools will promote a balanced and positive learning environment for all to enjoy.
Eradicating traditional gender stereotypes and replacing them with modern changemakers, both male and female, will help young girls aspire to be whoever they want to be without barriers.
Ultimately, all schools should play their part in balancing gender representation within the STEM sector, establishing innovative and empowering learning methods to keep young girls engaged.