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Although we have come a long way from the days when Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), were disciplines strictly dominated by males, women are still underrepresented in these fields. In a world run by ingenuity and innovation, this is not a good thing as it means we are losing about half of the brainpower available to us. For this reason, several institutions, organizations, professionals, and even some heads of state have come up with a call to action as well as strategies to increase the number of women in STEM fields.
According to various institutions, organizations, and individuals seeking to bridge the gender gap in STEM, a good place to start would be getting more young girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. This is a responsibility that falls on the parents and guardians of young girls. Therefore, if you have a little girl in your life, here are a few practical tips on how you can get her excited about STEM.
Encourage Her to Take On STEM in School
Sound knowledge on the basics of STEM topics puts a girl one-step closer to being able to pursue a career in any of the fields. This is why you should spark your little girl’s interest in STEM right from elementary and middle school years. Let it be known that you expect the girl to do well in STEM subjects and then get her to focus on all schoolwork concerning the 4 areas of study. Also, get her to participate in any hands-on STEM programs and activities offered after school hours as well as during the vacation. Getting your girl interested in STEM during the first years of her school life will increase chances of her choosing to continue learning the subjects once she gets to high school.
Actively Expose Your Child to STEM
In addition to encouraging your child to pursue STEM in school, it is also essential that you expose her to real-life learning opportunities outside of the class. The exposure will help her see the future possibilities that STEM classes can offer and therefore increase the possibility of her ending up in one of the industries.
Science museums and zoos offer a great starting point as they introduce kids to the practical side of STEM in a fun way that is devoid of any pressures. And if you are interested in a more serious approach, there are STEM clubs and organizations that offer special programs where kids get a firsthand introduction to STEM by professionals working in these fields. Some of the programs even allow kids to shadow professionals in the various STEM fields while they are in their element.
Try Finding a Female STEM Professional to Mentor the Kid
Most successful professionals have a mentor who played an invaluable role in their career life. So, introducing your daughter to a computer scientist, doctor, mechanical engineer, software programmer, or any professional in STEM at an early age is as close as you will get to ensuring she ends up pursuing a career in one of the fields. If you are unable to find a real-life STEM professional, books, videos, and documentaries that feature STEM role models can make an effective alternative.
Invest in STEM Toys
Aside from providing fun, the toys and games that we shower our kids with also help to mold their interests. Therefore, with the right kind of toys, you can be able to instill a love of STEM that will develop into a career interest. Thankfully, there are tons of options available when it comes to sparking an interest in STEM. Any open-ended toy that touches on science, technology, engineering, & math will do. Such toys not only trigger an interest in STEM but also instill analytical skills and critical thinking both of which are vital in STEM careers.
The key to encouraging young girls in STEM is to get them interested in these fields of study and then keep them hooked. This therefore means that you will have to start encouraging an interest in STEM early in your child’s life and remaining persistent in your endeavors throughout her school life.