6 min read
Women earn over 50% of all bachelor’s degrees in the US, yet less than 20% of degrees in computer sciences and engineering. Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but less than 30% of the science and engineering workforce.
This needs to change.
Girls are no less suited than boys for science, tech, engineering, or math. However, starting from an early age, female students are less likely than their male counterparts to feel like there is a place for them in these fields.
Codeverse hosted a panel on Tuesday, November 28th to discuss this disparity, as well as solutions for getting and keeping girls interested in STEM fields. Panelists Nicole Yeary (Founder of MsTech), Samantha Johnson (Professional soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars), Rose Coughlen (Manager of STEAM programs for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana), and Maggie Davis (6th Grader and Codeverse student) were present for this important discussion moderated by Codeverse Co-founder and CMO, Katy Lynch.
Our stellar panel put their heads together to offer the following solutions to the early-starting gender gap in STEM interest:
1. Use tactile learning: Rose Coughlen pointed out that STEM learning can begin even before children can read or write. Simply bringing children into nature and asking them to make note of what they observe is a great way to provide early exposure to science and math. For example, have your daughter collect, categorize, and count leaves, sticks, or bugs. It's also excellent to have kids engage in science experiments that involve visual results, like mixing substances that produce a reaction of fizzing, bubbling, or changing color.
2. Be what you want to see: Unfortunately, STEM fields are lacking in a plethora of female role models for girls to look up to. So as a mom or a teacher, it's important to emphasize how you utilize science, math, and tech in your own life. You don't need to be an expert, just make a point to note the ways that STEM plays a role in your life, and be sure to point out just how cool that is to the young women with whom you interact!
3. Instill confidence to prevent imposter syndrome: In recounting their own early experiences in STEM, both Coughlen and Nicole Yeary mentioned feeling like outsiders and suffering from "imposter syndrome." Fostering healthy self-esteem is crucial to making girls resilient to adversity and increasing their beliefs in their own abilities. Start encouraging girls to follow their dreams regardless of others' opinions at a young age to ensure that they stay determined as they grown older.
4. Be aware of the resources that do exist: At one point in the panel, Samantha Johnson gestured to our coding studio and mentioned that if she'd had something similar available when she were a child, she might have ended up with a totally different career. Not that being a professional soccer star is anything to shake one's head at, but it's always a good idea to stay aware of different ways to expose our children to a variety of interests, especially in the sciences and math.
Despite STEM funding being cut in many schools, there are after-school programs as well as apps, toys, and internet resources that can help supplement your child's education. (Check out our Ultimate STEM Gift Guide for some awesome interactive STEM toys suitable for various ages and skill levels!)
Panelist Maggie Davis mentioned that her own school has cut science education down to a mere 4 hours per week. When asked her ideal scenario, Maggie responded simply "more-" more science, more math, more opportunities for kids to engage, and more welcoming spaces for girls specifically to explore their STEM interests. We couldn't have said it any better.
Is there a girl in your life with an interest in STEM? Sign her up for a free trial coding class at our state-of-the-art studio!