Encouraging Girls in STEM - Eva Varga

February 20, 20144

Today is Girl Day, a movement that shows girls how creative and collaborative engineering is and how engineers are changing our world. With hundreds of events happening each year, together we are driving the conversation about girls and engineering. The culture is changing .. there is no better time to encourage the young girls in your life to pursue their interests in science.

STEMEnroll Her in Science Clubs

When I was a kid in school, there weren’t a whole lot of academic clubs that related to science and engineering. Thankfully, things have changed. Many schools and community groups now sponsor robotics clubs (First Lego League) and even host special events specifically for girls (Wow! That’s Engineering!).  Additionally, the Girl Scouts incorporate STEM-oriented activities as a major part of their overall programming, and there are conferences like AAUW’s Women in STEM that are designed to attract and interest young girls.

My dad would always say, just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you aren’t good at it.

To find out if a group exists in your community, start with your local science teachers. Even if there are no local clubs, your interest may be able to help spark something that would benefit girls throughout your community. In addition to local events, look into introducing girls to aspects of the national STEM movement.  Getting the girl in your life involved with other future women engineers doesn’t have to be limited to the school year either. The number of engineering-related summer camps is growing each year. Do your research.

Give Her a Hero

When little girls envision their futures, they often use women they admire as a role model for their own dreams. At a Roots & Shoots conference in 2011, Jane Goodall spoke about reaching for the moon as opposed to Mt Everest. My daughter told me later that she felt like Jane looked right at her when she spoke these words and she’s always tried to live up to that ever since.  Because of Jane’s influence, she has aspired to make a difference.

Similarly, if the girl in your life doesn’t know any famous female chemists, chances are she’s not going dream of being the next Marie Curie. So do what you can to introduce her to women whose legacies are just as important as those of George Washington Carver or Neil Armstrong, whom we all know and love.

Every hour you invest in the girl in your life will not only help improve her chance of success but also make her a more well-rounded, engaged citizen, whether she pursues a STEM-related field or not.

Encouraging Girls in STEM – More Ideas

  • How many girls go into STEM because someone told them they can’t do it? Tell them they can!
  • Take field trips to engineering departments.
  • Enroll in a welding course.
  • Visit an engineering office and visit with the female engineering team members who work there. Ask them about projects they are working on.
  • Take pictures female engineers and scientists and start a scrapbook to remind your girls of the cool women who work in engineering.
  • Take lots of math and physics classes early. Physics is a great way to show how to apply math.
  • Try to make STEM interesting for her – incorporate physics and engineering activities into your science curriculum. For example:
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