Unfortunately, many technical industries remain male-dominated. This continued societal imbalance isn’t doing anything to improve the U.S. global rank on the issue. Therefore, real progress is likely to require a more concerted, targeted effort on everyone’s part.
For educators and parents who want to provide girls with more information about opportunities for women in a science or math career such as engineering, there are several excellent resources available about women in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Moreover, teachers hoping to introduce creative students to technological fields may be interested in the development of new STEAM-based instructional techniques that add art to the equation—via project-based learning, for example.
Check out the four following organizations for more resources and information.
Women in Science
The Women in Science websiteis a wonderful source of information, especially for its inclusion of disabled girls—including those with hearing and vision impairments. This radio program focuses on the nationwide efforts to widen the career horizons for thousands of qualified young women by introducing them to career possibilities that make the most of their scholastic aptitude and education in STEM.
The programming is divided into two parts:
- Research and Innovation in STEM, including Out Loud, Her Story, Now; Access to Advancement, Part 1; Powerful Signals, Part 1; and The Sounds of Progress, Part 1. These portions are concerned with current research developments and are designed to have a wide appeal among all ages and backgrounds. There is also emphasis on women, minorities and those with disabilities. Stories and related information are suitable for sharing among grades K-12.
- Women Pioneers in STEM, including Her Story, Then; The Tech Club; The Sounds of Progress, Part 2; Powerful Signals, Part 2, and Access to Advancement, Part 2. These segments examine the lives and careers of women pioneers in STEM. These stories are suitable for classroom sharing and discussion as well as for parents who wish to listen with their daughters. Girl Scout troops and other organizations that work with girls may be interested in utilizing these stories in conjunction with activities toward badge work.
American Association of University Women
The American Association of University Women(AAUW) has long supported opportunities for women in higher education. Their research and national programs are a must-read for anyone interested in encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. The AAUW also realizes that education is only part of the quotient: women and girls still face educational and social barriers to STEM careers; to help study and remedy these problems, AAUW has assembled a task force as well as conducted research to attract and keep more women in STEM careers.
Here are two of their popular and innovative STEM programs for girls:
- Tech Trek– A week of science and math at a camp for girls entering eighth grade
- Tech Savvy– A day of STEM conferences for girls from sixth through ninth grade and families
“100 Women Leaders in STEM”, a PDF publication by STEMConnector, offers detailed discussions and articles by and about women in STEM careers, the challenges they faced both at the academic as well as employment levels, and the challenges still faced by girls in the middle grades onward to choosing STEM careers.
Among the topics included are the following:
- The experiences of women of color in STEM
- Identifying and eliminating academic and social roadblocks to STEM, such as the ‘Macho Effect’ of male student intimidation tactics and faculty bias against women and minorities in STEM, as well as steps taken to change these attitudes and behaviors
- Workforce development
U.S. Department of Energy
The Council on Women and Girls has partnered with the Energy Department to create opportunities for girls in STEM careersin academic, workforce and economic sectors. To this end, several notable scientific facilities around the nation have developed programs aimed at increasing participation of girls and young women in science, math, and engineering careers, offering internships, conferences and other educational support.
These include Ames, Argonne National Laboratory, FermiLab, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
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Beyond any lofty, abstract goals to close the gender gap in STEM fields or to pay lip service to feminism, more young women should learn about female scientists in order to widen their understanding of long-term possibilities. The above resources can serve as a starting point for parents and teachers to introduce more diverse, exciting careers and fields of study into girls’ lives, leveling the proverbial playing field and providing a larger set of choices to choose from—and perhaps opening the door to creating the next Nobel scientist or prominent inventor of groundbreaking technology.
The future is, as of yet, unwritten. Let’s make sure the fields of possibility are as vast for girls as they are for boys.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.