By Emily Smith
Over the past 50 years, women in the United States have made great strides in education and entry into the work force in this country. Today, the majority of college graduates (57%) and master’s level graduates (60%) are women, and nearly half of this country’s work force is comprised of women. However, despite these advances, women continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, collectively referred to as “STEM.”
Although there is an age-old belief that girls are not high achievers in math and science, but rather, are stronger in English/language arts and social studies, performance measures paint a different picture. According to the American Association of University Women, high school girls and boys perform equally well in math and science. Yet, research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school.
So, what’s missing in science education for girls? And how can parents, teachers, and family members help girls develop the internal assets they need to take on and excel in these innovative, world changing careers now and in the future? In its report, Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, the Girl Scout Research Institute offers the following suggestions:
- Girls are interested in STEM! Talk to them like they are.
- Encourage girls to ask questions about the world, experiment, and problem solve. Get girls involved in activities that will foster their STEM skills.
- Educate yourself about STEM opportunities and show girls they can achieve their goals through STEM careers.
- Expose girls to experts and mentors in STEM fields.
- Develop girls’ confidence and their “inner resumes” so they’ll have what it takes to become STEM experts.
When today’s girls graduate from college, America will need three million more scientists and engineers. Girl Scouts is fueling this pipeline. Programs in science, technology, engineering, and math now account for more than half of all Girl Scout awards, and we introduce more girls to inspiring role models in scientific fields than any other organization.
For more information about Girl Scouts or to obtain a copy of Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, visit girlscoutsnv.org .
Emily Smith is the CMO for Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada. Membership in Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada is open to all girls 5-17 years-old. For more information on Girl Scouts, Camp Foxtail call (702) 385-3677 or visit girlscoutsnv.org girlscoutsnv.org .