Over the years, there’s been much discussion about the achievement gap in STEM between girls and boys. Our world has seen major milestone achievements made by women in science and great strides were made to decrease the gap. But what can we do in our local communities, schools, and homes to close the gap even further?
Recent educational case studies provide data on this gap that separates girls and boys in STEM. While both genders show enthusiasm for all things STEM/STEAM-related, more girls experience an interest drop-off around the 4th and 5th grades. And the drop-off continues as girls enter middle school.
Here at littleBits, one of our main inventing philosophies is that “we invent the world we want to live in.” And if we want our world to be truly inspiring, innovative, and cutting-edge, we must provide the essential tools and encouragement to make sure that girls are interested in STEM just like boys. We rounded up the 5 best ways that education communities and parents can help lead the pathway for more young women to engage in STEM.
1. Create, develop, and maintain a positive community around women in STEM. From the classroom to home, both parents and instructors can create a positive atmosphere where young inventors feel confident to explore and experiment with their interest in STEM. This environment can start with just a simple conversation – ask a girl what about STEM interests her and listen. Then, parents and faculty can mix in projects and lessons that feature women in the STEM fields, independent reading, science symposiums, and more.
2. Encourage learning outside of the classroom. Besides field trips and guest speakers, independent study projects and educational STEM toys can get a young child interested in STEM and get her ready to explore and invent.
3. Support a healthy level of competition with skill-building. Enroll a STEM-interested kid in after school programs like the Girl Scouts, play groups, and specialized classes. The social aspect will allow her to thrive and learn valuable life lessons through STEM activities.
4. Volunteer your time. Do you work in the STEM fields? Or are a STEM enthusiast? Now is the time to start a learning group to mentor young inventors. You can also donate your time as a tutor, troop leader, or even a littleBits Chapter Leader.
5. Support women in STEM in big and small ways. Create a positive dialogue around women and success in the STEM fields. You can also donate funds or you time to important organizations such as Girls Who Code, the Girl Scouts, and more. And, if you encounter divisive language meant to hold women in STEM back, be a leader and take on a role in ending gender stereotypes and preconceived, outdated notions.