Girls and Stem subjects
While DC Extended Universe is celebrating the success of their latest superhero movie Wonder Woman, the real universe faces the challenges when it comes to letting the women rule. In our world, we do not have a supernatural power to stop bullets with the bracelets, neither can we negotiate with Ares to stop the war. However, what we can do to make this world a better place is to create the equal conditions for everyone to become successful in their field. The very first step to take is to make the education system gender-neutral, or, rather, gender-friendly, especially when it comes to girls involvement in STEM.
What does it have to do with STEM?
The answer is simple: it has both social and environmental barriers, such as gender biases, stereotypes, and economic background. Another interesting fact that drew my attention is that less and less female students are involved in STEM programs at college or university level. For example, while both female and male students have pretty much the same achievements at school, the proportion of female students, involved in college programs like Computer Science and Engineering, drops off dramatically — only 17.9% of bachelor degrees in Computer Science, 19.3% in Engineering, 39% in physical sciences, and 43.1% in Mathematics are received by women.
While the proportion of the male and female students, enrolled in non-STEM related college programs does not differ significantly, it varies drastically in Science & Engineering programs, which give us at least 2 reasons to worry about it. The first concern is that by 2025 47% of the jobs will be gone, and it will destabilize the allocation of the labor force. This causes the other problem: by 2025, Science and Technology related sphere anticipates the biggest number of job openings, which means there will be a need for qualified workers. Wonder what will happen to those without the needed skills and knowledge? They will be out of the game. Wonder who are they? Women.
Yes, We Can Change It! Here is How.
There is nothing wrong if your daughter wants to be a fashion designer or makeup artist. Just as well as a scientist or programmer. What IS wrong is to tell her that some of the professions are “not for her because they are for boys”. This is something that can discourage your kid in extending her knowledge in science because of the fear of becoming boy-like. Our task is to dispel the myth of jobs and gender, and there are plenty of ways how you can encourage your daughter (whatever her age is) to become more interested in science and technologies.
- The Almighty Web. This is where a magical “Google it” comes in handy. YouTube Kids, Khan Academy, Code, Exploratorium, Coursera, etc — you will find on the web something that your child will like, depending on her age and preferences.
- The Almighty App Store. I’m pretty sure some kids are more comfortable with the smartphones than their parents, and it is quite hard to take the screens away from them. However, with the good educational apps, you will not worry your kid watches some dumb series (or, at least, not all the time).
- The Almighty Books. The encyclopedias these days are not only the big cool books with a lot of pictures — this is one of the sources for the kid to understand how the things work. Either library or a bookstore can provide you with the encyclopedia for every science reading night.
- Museums of Science. If you have one in your hometown, ask if they organize Science days or fairs. Usually, this is a combination of fun and activities that can make your child ask more how’s.
If Help Needed
Sometimes even those children, who are involved in STEM and like it, face challenges when it comes to completing homework or assignments from their extracurricular class. In this case, you have three most common options: you either help your child with the tasks, hire a tutor, or use an app for the kid (or yourself) to check step-by-step if your solution is correct whenever you need.
What Are the Outcomes?
Except for developing logical thinking and problem-solving skills, there is one social outcome of your daughter being involved in STEM. I am talking about her becoming the one, who can make a positive contribution to humanity in general by applying her knowledge and skills in the field she wants to succeed. I am talking about leaving the gender stereotypes behind, empowering the girls and helping them to become stronger and self-reliable. This is how smart can become a new strong.
Guest Post by Kate Stelmashchuk
Kate Stelmashchuk is an edtech researcher for Felix Math crew. She loves to explore and analyse how the changes in education transform the way we live, and how they can help us to handle the social challenges we face now. Besides, Kate is a big fan of 20th century art, old-school rock’n’roll, Decadence literature, Woody Allen’s movies, and Beat Generation poetry, which always keeps her “on the road’.