Due to a variety of factors––such as the cultural bias that leads to lower confidence levels, fewer opportunities, and less access to STEM enrichment activities for girls––female students are less likely to engage in STEM subjects and choose STEM careers.
While women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, only 25% of these women hold jobs in STEM. Even women who have degrees in STEM disciplines are less likely to pursue careers in STEM industries.
The solution to this disparity is to engage women in STEM subjects while they are young, helping to form their passion and excitement for future STEM careers.
There is a persistent gender gap in STEM, and the support of educators and parents is key to empowering and motivating young girls to pursue interests and careers in STEM.
Providing female students with resources and opportunities can create the foundation for their success in STEM subjects and increase their interest in future STEM degrees and careers.
Here are five ways to motivate girls in STEM:
1. Connect students with female STEM mentors.
One of the biggest reasons girls shy away from STEM careers is because of a lack of female role models in STEM. While women hold less than 25% of all jobs in STEM, there are still many women who wish to make themselves accessible as mentors to girls who are interested in STEM careers.
Connecting students with these women through STEM organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, Black Girls Code, or the Association for Women in Science can give them positive role models to motivate their continued interest in STEM subjects.
2. Encourage participation in clubs and STEM competitions.
STEM extracurriculars such as professional STEM organizations and math, robotics, and coding teams are often heavily dominated by male students, making it hard for girls to feel confident breaking into these spaces.
Increase female participation in these clubs and competitions by encouraging girls to join with their female friends, or help girls create their own team to learn from and collaborate with your school’s existing team. CoderZ League offers a unique opportunity to engage girls of all skill levels in computer science and coding through an accessible competition full of exciting challenges.
3. Create personalized STEM activities that pique girls’ interests.
Sometimes, it can be hard to engage girls in STEM subjects at all, but the skills learned in these disciplines transcend STEM fields and are crucial for success in college and future careers.
To engage less interested students in STEM, it’s critical to create activities that are centered around girls’ unique interests. For example, a student who is excited about fashion may benefit from designing and coding her own fashion game or animating her own fashion show.
These interests-based activities enable the exploration of new skills and may pique future interest in STEM careers.
4. Teach students about successful women in STEM.
Students spend a lot of time in history learning about the doctors, inventors, and mathematicians that have developed the medicines, machines, and other inventions students use in their daily lives.
Unfortunately, most of the people credited for these innovations are male, even when women were a crucial part of the process. As educators, parents, and mentors of young women, it’s important to learn the stories of accomplished women in STEM and share them with girls to provide them with representation and build a foundation for their confidence in these disciplines.
5. Celebrate girls’ STEM accomplishments.
Engaging girls in STEM activities, clubs, and competitions is necessary to build their interest in these subjects, but celebrating their accomplishments is key to keeping them confident and motivated to continue pursuing their STEM interests.
In the same way you would announce big sports wins or academic successes to the entire school community, it’s critical to share and celebrate girls’ STEM accomplishments.
Not only does celebrating girls’ accomplishments give them confidence in their abilities to further succeed, but it also provides representation and motivates other female students to explore their STEM interests.
By creating opportunities and encouraging girls to engage in STEM activities and extracurriculars, you can create a motivating environment for girls to pursue their STEM interests.
Girls who are motivated, engaged, and confident are more likely to pursue future degrees and careers in STEM, helping to close the gender gap in these disciplines.