STEMs are not the careers of the future, they are the careers of the present, so it is necessary to reduce the existing gender gap and inspire more women to pursue these careers. But, to do so, we need to start motivating and exposing girls to these disciplines, but how can we do it? How can we make girls interested and involved in STEMs ?
Lets start by the beginning. What are STEMs?
The word STEM is an acronym for the following words: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM careers, then, are those that are related to the following areas of knowledge:
These disciplines are not only the future but also the present. However, there is a large gender gap in these areas of study. Why is this happening? for what is this?
Most studies conclude that this is because most women do not want to pursue STEM careers (engineering, physics, computer science …) because they know they will have to live in a clearly masculine work environment where they will be penalized for being women (discrimination labor, strongly rooted stereotypes, environments and labor policies that are not friendly to women, among others).
This does not arise from one moment to another but is a consequence of current socialization and education where the expectations for boys and girls are different; They are also influenced by socio-cultural factors that consider that the interests and abilities of the girls do not go according to the STEM . These factors generate, as recent studies indicate, that girls and boys have the same interest in STEMs when they are young but, as early as 6 years (according to a study in the journal Science) girls lose interest in these disciplines
Why is this happening? And what can we do to avoid it?
Mainly, it is due to stereotypes and socio-cultural expectations that begin to penetrate the behavior of girls around 6-8 years of age. This includes a low self-concept of women’s ability with respect to STEM areas (and the consequent referral to areas that are considered more in line with the character of girls and women) and the low value that these careers propose for women.
What can we do?
As parents (and educators) we can do the following:
1. Expose our girls very early to STEM disciplines. Whether with toys (there are several), attending trade fairs on science and technology, showing them stories and films on these topics. (Better yet if the protagonist is a woman).
2. Enroll them in workshops and extracurricular activities of these disciplines: robotics, programming, scientific experiments and the like. Eye: making them attractive to them.
3. Update our knowledge about science and mention the contributions that women have had (and still have) to the world of science and technology. That our daughters, nieces, granddaughters meet not only Marie Curie but also all those who contributed their grain of sand to the world of science to generate female references to those who want to emulate.
Given the importance they have today and the even more prominent character that STEMs will acquire in the near future, it is a priority for girls to be trained in these disciplines and participate equally with men in the next technological revolutions that are yet to come. It is in our hands to prevent any girl with a technological vocation from staying out of the game.