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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Women (and Girls) in STEM

Women (and Girls) in STEM

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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?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

What a fantastic video! I am intrigued by both of their passions for teaching as well as robotics. Any chance they are interested in going into education? What fine educators they are! My guess however is that they are probably going into the private sector. Loved their insights into teaching and learning, for themselves and their students.

The playlist is great too.

I've shared both on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for sharing!


Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

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."

Ashley Cronin's picture
Ashley Cronin
Digital Resource Curator

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!

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

"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...

Bill Kuch's picture
Bill Kuch
High School Math and Pre-Engineering teacher in Hilliard, Ohio

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

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

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.

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture

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"

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!

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture

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!

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