My aunt posted this article, Why Girls Need Stem and Why Stem Needs Girls to her FB. I was intrigued. I knew I was going to write about this so I saved the link in my drafts. A week or so later I was watching TV.
Do you remember that show with Corey and Topanga- Boy meets world? Well, they made a sequel to it. Corey and Topanga grew up, got married and had two kids. One is a teenage girl. Hence, it’s called Girl Meets World.
I found myself watching an episode of it (again) the other night. It was my sign that it was time to write.
In this episode titled Girl Meets STEM (see the theme, now), Riley takes a stand when she notices that it’s just the boys who conduct the science experiments. The central problem of this episode revolves around the fact that the female characters were at the age when most girls start dropping out of STEM classes.
These are the areas where the greatest developments occur. Marie Curie and her
radioactivity research. Sally Ride, the first woman in space. Antonia Coello Novello, the first female Surgeon General of the United States. Kari Byron, a co-host of Mythbusters. Ms. Frizzle.
Okay, so that next to last one doesn’t have the staggering STEM resume the others do. But, she is in the field of science working to make science exciting for teens. And the last one isn’t real. Still, I think girls appreciate the show just as much as the boys do.
The first article reports that about 10-30% of STEM occupations are female. A quick google search reveals very similar numbers for the number of males in the teaching profession between elementary and high school.
Why this odd imbalance? Historically speaking, that’s the way it’s always been. This is the 21st century. It doesn’t have to be like that any more. Women have proven over and over again, they are just as capable as men.
We need to rethink how we treat the girls in these classes when they are still young. Stop gender stereotyping and allow kids to explore, engineer, build, study, think whatever it is they can dream up. I’m certainly not saying take away their dolls – that how they learn to be mothers (just as our boys have Sweet Baby to practice caring for to be good dads). I’m saying give them that which they can discover and reinvent the world. Building blocks. Science kits. Solar powered robots. Lego is for everyone!
Allow them to explore the world and the world will be theirs.
Do with boys, too. They love it just as much.