Take a trip back to your younger years, and assume you were in fourth grade. The class teacher comes in and asks all the students to get out their drawing books and draw a scientist, a mathematician, an engineer or an IT technician. What gender feature would you draw? Well, the surprising truth is that more than three-quarters of such a class of young innocent minds would have a male figure on their drawing. It’s quite sad, but it’s the plain harsh reality. Women have for long been drawn away from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and including curriculum developers, book authors, teachers, parents, and guardians, all of us may be to blame for this.
We send a message that these are fields and subjects more suitable for boys and men. But in the wake of civilization, this is no longer the case. Even the third-world and developing countries are waking up to the fact that gender is never a limiting factor for achievement as far as passion, talent, and commitment are concerned. But it so happens, that we still have thousands of miles to cover when it comes to increasing the number of girls and women interested in STEM. So what can parents, guardians, teachers, school heads, and mentors do to draw more girls into these male-dominated fields in the world of today?
The best way to mold or trigger a person’s interest in something is to do it at their tender and younger ages. This aside; stories have for long been proven to be the most effective ways to present an idea to someone or teach them something in a way that it sticks in their memory. Expert educators say that you don’t even have to tell your little girl stories about how robots will dominate household chores, the Apollo 69, or how the internet of things all began. Instead, telling stories that instill curiosity and teach perseverance to your young girl could help create a liking for STEM.
Use girl toys
Toys are more than just playthings for kids as they grow. A male kid who grows surrounded by car toys can develop a liking for automotives, while still gaining interest in how engines are made as they grow older. Likewise, there are girl toys that are designed to attract technical interest in girls in a similar manner, but in a different way. Thanks to the realization that stereotypes are overtaken by events, STEM toys for girls that can be used to bring out the best of her talent, interest, or passion in science, math, engineering, and technology concepts are nowadays available. Most of these toys contain female features and use your kid’s creativity in a way that is more girlish, so you don’t, there’s a high chance that their girlfriends will be interested and even pester their parents for similar toys.
Bring some math and tech into her senses
Especially when she’s started coming of age, let her prepare her monthly budget of needs and wants and give them to you as a parent. Since she obviously owns a laptop or smartphone by now, or she knows how to use one, you can even insist that she has to prepare this on their laptop and send it over to you via email. Of course, you can always help her out whenever she gets stuck, but the main essence is to create some kind of urge in STEM without forcing it, while still trying to discover her passions.
Teach them human biology
As girls grow, they may pester their parents with so many questions that need answers, especially when they reach puberty and through their teenage years. From “why is my chest bump and Zack’s (the younger brother) isn’t” to “some red thing is coming from underneath me”, parents, especially moms, often receive lots of questions. In addition to what they get taught at school, why not teach them human biology topics such as human anatomy, reproductive health, and related subjects such as microbiology as they approach this age in a friendlier manner? You could even develop a question and answer game and make it fun by including fun rules, like whoever provides a wrong answer will be fined 5 bucks or jump into the pool with their clothes on!
Girls clubs and women empowerment
All over the US, for instance, girls’ clubs in schools, scouts, clubs, and other public organizations have gone ahead to incorporate curriculums and programs that support STEM 100%. In these clubs, it’s all about the strength of a woman, girls who excel in the said programs are even sponsored, mentored, and their talents are monitored to ensure that they end up becoming leaders, innovators, influencers, and role models in society.
It’s a popular notion that the inferiority complex when it comes to women and STEM is real. However, more and more women are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which could only mean that we’re headed in the right direction. All the same, let’s be honest about things here. Girls, at least most of them are just not into these subjects. The above are just some of the things we as adults and parents in society could do to get more female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists.