STEM education provides many opportunities and challenges. How can our practice evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century learners?

Women (and Girls) in STEM

Lisa Michelle Dabbs Edu Consultant. Blogger & Social Media Marketing at Edutopia

In the U.S., demand for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals is expected to increase 16.8 percent from now to 2020, adding nearly 1.3 million new STEM jobs to the workforce.

Despite the fact that more women attend and graduate college than men, women still remain significantly underrepresented in STEM, both in terms of jobs and degrees. Women comprise 48 percent of the workforce, yet they hold only 24 percent of STEM jobs.

My frustration then lies in this question: Where are the women? What are you doing to encourage the girls in your classes, school, life to seek their talents in the area of STEM? Are we doing enough to support them to reach their full potential and feel confident that they can be great scientists, engineers, programmers if that is their passion?

Comments (19)

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Director, Antioch Center for School Renewal

I think the key to some of

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I think the key to some of this is showing younger girls that it's cool to be good in math and science- there aren't a lot of up close role models to counteract all the up close "math is hard/ for boys/ not fun" messages they get. I have a 10 year old daughter who is really good in math- she'd make a great engineer- and she has zero interest in doing anything with it. She had one great (female) teacher who made a big deal about how much she (the teacher) loved math and that one year we saw my girl get excited about her skills. Before and since, she's had teachers who were less enthusiastic (and a couple who came right out and said they either didn't like or weren't good at math).

It makes me said because she blows the top out of her tests and has mad skillz but she won't even consider joining the math club or the robotics team or even taking advanced math in middle school because none of her friends are going to be there and she doesn't want to be "uncool."

Digital Resource Curator at Edutopia

This is such an important

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This is such an important topic. One of my friends, a high school physics teacher, recently took her infant son to a discussion group for new moms. He was wearing a onesie with the word "physics" written across the front. Twice, she was asked, "Is his daddy a scientist?" There is definitely still work we need to do as a society on this front.

I've run across some articles on this topic recently. Edudemic's "7 Powerful STEM Resources for Girls," published a few months back, lists some of the organizations working on this issue. Also, a recent blog from The New York Times, "Nudging Girls Toward Computer Science," discusses the work of organizations like Girls Who Code that pair up young women with successful female technologists. The author of that blog makes an interesting point about how female role models in popular media affect the career aspirations of young women.

I was pleased to see that young women made up more than half of the finalists in the Google Science Fair earlier this year. Check out their amazing projects!

Director, Antioch Center for School Renewal

"The author of that blog

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"The author of that blog makes an interesting point about how female role models in popular media affect the career aspirations of young women."

This is so true. What I wouldn't give for one cool Disney Channel character who plays video games and wants to be an engineer when she grows up...

High School Math and Pre-Engineering teacher in Hilliard, Ohio

Here is a video discussing

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Here is a video discussing what we have done at our High School while impletmenting our PLTW program. It has helped us to enroll and retain girls in our classes. http://youtu.be/Ytax6qmzsi8

Community Manager at Edutopia

Thanks for sharing the video,

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Thanks for sharing the video, Bill. A girls-only first year seems like an interesting way to build a foundation in both the science and the peer bonds that support the study of it.

Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

Couldn't resist sharing this

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Couldn't resist sharing this video from GoldieBlox (http://www.goldieblox.com/) -- a new company started by a female engineer to make toys that encourage girls to think like engineers.

GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg, & Beastie Boys "Princess Machine"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpe3Up9T_g

A rallying cry for girls everywhere who deserve more than just dolls and princesses!

Goldieblox has put out a number of great videos and their products look pretty fantastic.

Also, Bill -- added your video to my Girls & STEM playlist, thanks!

Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

Alas, the GoldieBlox video

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Alas, the GoldieBlox video was taken down for a copyright infringement claim by the Beastie Boys, who are standing by their decision to never use their music in commercials. :-(

But, trending this week is this video by Emily Graslie, @ehmee on Twitter, who hosts the wonderful science show The Brain Scoop. Emily speaks out against the discrimination she encounters as a female host of a STEM series on YouTube:

Where My Ladies At? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRNt7ZLY0Kc

Not only does she take sexist commenters to task, but she compiled an AMAZING list of YouTube channels with STEM shows hosted by women in the description field under the video player. Love it!

Community Manager at Edutopia

March is Women's History

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March is Women's History Month, and I just wanted to point out that ScienceNetLinks has compiled some great resources/lesson plans for it:

http://sciencenetlinks.com/collections/womens-history-month/

Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

Just had to share this

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Just had to share this wonderful video produced by USC Viterbi -- it compares engineers to superheroes in an effort to encourage more girls to pursue engineering!

Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day
https://vimeo.com/86537339

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