STEM for girls
If you have a young daughter, you’ll probably be aware of the industry-driven demand for more female representation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). These fields offer well-paid stimulating careers that will change the world. So how do you encourage your daughter to keep her options open for a STEM career?
Overcoming misconceptions about science
A 2018 Microsoft[i] survey found that 91% of girls believe they are creative and 72% thought it was important to have a job that helps the world. But only 37% thought that a STEM career would involve either of these things.
Talking with your daughter about the STEM behind her interests is a great way to start. Tracking endangered animals, environmental monitoring, wind farms, life-saving medical procedures – the list is endless. If you see something that illustrates the creativity and importance of STEM, bring it to her attention and explore it together.
Another tip is to build STEM-related experiences into the fun things you do together. Plan visits to a museum, aquarium, hospital open day or even a factory tour. Include everyday experiences as well. If you see an unusual cloud formation, point it out and invite your child to join you in finding out how they are made.
The Microsoft survey reported that having an encouraging mother who communicates about STEM is linked to girls having a significantly higher interest in STEM subjects. This continues to grow when you add fathers and teachers into the mix.
According to the Microsoft study, 50% of the girls felt they were among the hardest working in STEM classes, but only 37% thought they were one of the smartest STEM students. This pervasive view that girls are naturally less capable in STEM subjects is not supported by research. A 2018 University of New South Wales study[ii] looked at 1.6 million students’ grades from around the world. It found there was very little difference between boys and girls in STEM subjects.
Being careful about what we say is one place to start. When a girl constructs something, for example, we might automatically say how beautiful it is rather than suggesting she should become an engineer. Or we might invite a girl to write a story about an outing, rather than build a related model or design a solution to a problem they noticed.
Keep an eye out for local STEM clubs and STEM-related courses that are led by women for girls. The Microsoft study found that girls who knew a woman in STEM were far more likely to feel powerful doing STEM, understand its relevance and know how to pursue a STEM career.
Keeping up with maths
Maths is a strong component of most STEM subjects and mastering new topics often relies on previous learning. That’s why it’s important to monitor your daughter’s progress, looking for frustration, avoidance or loss of confidence.
If you have concerns about your daughter’s maths, don’t hesitate to talk with her teacher. It may also be useful to get in touch with your local NumberWorks’nWords tuition centre.
We offer a free no-obligation assessment of your child’s strengths and weaknesses in maths. She can also try a free lesson with one of our tutors. If you choose to continue, we’ll create an individual learning plan for her and regularly report on progress. Book your free no-obligation assessment today.