Innovative ideas to keep girls interested in STEM
Hello, everyone! I recently contacted the Women’s Center to inquire about volunteer opportunities. I was informed that the blog has been rather neglected the last few years, and if interested, I could write some new entries. Despite the fact that I have virtually no background in writing for a blog and question whether anyone could ever be interested in what I have to say, I agreed. One of my main motivations for wanting to volunteer with the center was to learn more about issues facing girls and women in the world today, so I hope to use the blog as a tool to expose myself and therefore the readers (if you’re out there!) to interesting things going on in the world today affecting women. I apologize in advance if I am awful at this task, but here goes nothing.
I came across an interesting project on Kickstarter (an online tool entrepreneurs can use to help fund new ideas) the other day while searching for a topic worthy of my first blog post. Though instantly intriguing, I didn’t fully appreciate the concept until I sat back and really thought about how my own experiences related to the cause.
The author, Sean Reed, identified a well-known problem: women are far less likely than men to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Despite an equal interest in these subjects at a young age in boys and girls, by the time women reach college, they are four times less likely to major in engineering and seven times less likely to major in computer science. While various policy-makers, educators, feminists, etc. have offered solutions as to how to remedy this gender gap in STEM fields, I was rather drawn to Reed’s creative, fun approach.
Reed suggests that girls are often discouraged from pursuing their interest in STEM fields because they are not frequently exposed to role models in those areas, especially in popular culture. Reed’s Kickstarter is asking for people to help fund a project that would help create a book for young readers that centers around GIRLS pursuing those interests.
Reed’s hypothesis: “If writers produced more books with young girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math as the MAIN characters in their stories, I believe we could ultimately build a large cohort of girls who wouldn’t have any problem of self-identifying as someone who likes science, and ultimately could increase the number of women across the STEM-related careers where they are underrepresented.”
I think it’s a great, innovative idea. And think about it, do any of your favorite stories, whether from a book, movie, whatever, have inquisitive young girls driving the plot? I can think of plenty of girls who are in that position and then realize how unhappy they are and instead turn to ballet or singing or anything else to find happiness (or as the stories go, “to finally find their true self”). Even in the stories with a science or math-minded female, how often are they the main character? I can only think of a few examples when they are even part of the story at all.
The idea that all women should pursue STEM careers or all girls need to be interested in these fields is false. But girls interested in those areas should not be discouraged because they feel odd or different for doing so. Having more role models, whether in books or somewhere else, is probably not the only answer, but I think it is at least a start. If anything, I at least appreciate the project for identifying a problem and attempting to find a solution.
If you want to read more about the project or contribute to the cause, you can do so here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/miloandbruno/get-more-girls-excited-by-science-and-math-with-a?goback=%2Enpv_232333548_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1%2Egmp_67341%2Egde_67341_member_224702913
Hope this blog wasn’t too brutal to read. Continue to check back for more!
-Marisa, MSWC Volunteer