It is important for our female students throughout East Tennessee to understand that girls are able to achieve success in STEMM careers. If you are a girl who has an interest and has fun in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or medical science, there are many opportunities to engage in these fields. It is not too early to think about STEMM careers in middle or high school. There is a high need for females in these fields.
Here are some statistics about women and STEMM:
- Men continue to outnumber women in science and engineering jobs throughout the United States
- Women earn only 20% of 4-year college degrees in physics, engineering, and computer science programs
- Women make up only 24% of STEM field jobs
- 74% of teenage girls are interested in STEMM fields
- 82% believe they are smart enough to pursue STEMM careers
- 13% of girls view STEMM as their first option
So WHY are women so underrepresented in STEMM fields?
- Girls tend to believe that science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical science are “boy subjects” or male interests.
- Girls want to fit in; they don’t want to be labeled as “geek, nerd, or math whiz,” so they become attracted to more “feminine” areas of study like English, Art, or History.
- Girls’ confidence and self-esteem in STEMM subjects are low; they don’t believe they are smart enough to be successful in STEMM subjects, so their test scores suffer.
- There is a lack of female role models in degree programs and the job environment when hired.
What can we DO about it?
- Embrace your intelligence; smart is cool!
- Sign up for a STEMM-related course, even if you have hesitations
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class
- Find a supportive teacher or adult in the community that you can talk to about your STEMM interests
- Sign up for a community after-school program that engages you in STEMM work
- Break the stereotypes that involve boys only being able to do math, science, and technology; prove that you are just as capable!
- Start the conversation with your daughter about her interest in STEMM subjects
- Find out how she feels about the science she is learning in school
- Encourage her to seek out teachers or counselors who support her interests
- Reframe thoughts and concerns of something being “gross” or “messy” with how “interesting” or “fascinating” it can be
- Ask her about her plans for the future and encourage exploration of careers not traditionally associated with women
- Help connect her with positive female role models in the community
- Assist her in joining other girls at school, an afterschool program, or a Girls Inc. affiliate to nurture and hone into girls’ interests in STEMM
- Help create a positive educational environment with math and science programs that invite female students to engage in their interests
- Be in-the-know about in-school and out-of-school programs that promote girls in STEMM subjects; workshops are gaining popularity to encourage girls to maintain their interest in STEM
- Offer information about opportunities for girls to engage in STEMM work in the community; there are summer internship, job shadowing, or career day opportunities that girls can take advantage of
- Serve as a mentor for your female students; you can help them boost their confidence and reach their post-secondary education goals in STEMM
To find out more . . .
Women in STEMM videos
For more information related to Women and Girls in STEMM, please refer to the following:
Tennessee STEM Innovation Network: www.thetsin.org
The White House; Women in STEM: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/women
Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub: www.midtnstem.com
Twitter; Women in STEMM; @WiSTEMM www.twitter.com/WiSTEMM
National Girls Collaborative Project: www.ngcproject.org
Huffington Post; Girls in STEM: www.huffingtonpost.com/new/girls-in-stem
Girl Scouts of America; STEM Program: www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/girl-scouts-and-stem.html