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How do you think we can encourage more women to pursue a career in STEM fields?

As a young lady myself, I am saddened by the lack of interest in STEM that I see in my female peers. As children, an equal amount of men and women are interested in STEM fields, but as we grow up, girls seem to view STEM as a more masculine field and begin to distance themselves from it. I believe it is important for women to be interested in becoming a part of these scientific fields, or else we are losing out on thousands of bright minds.

How do you think we can best facilitate interest in STEM in girls around the world? #stem #women-in-stem #women #women-in-tech #young-adults

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Carol’s Answer

Bridget is correct, the only way to get more women into STEM is to show them women already in STEM and prove it can be done. I've been in the field for many years, at first it was just accepted it wasn't a female field, those of us working in there were seen as "not normal" (who wants to be normal anyway). It's only over the last few years the stats came out and I realised just how rare it is, now I'm wondering myself how to encourage younger women. I know it starts in school, I just can't figure out how to develop the interest.

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bridget’s Answer

Hi Hannah:


Best way to facilitate interest is to become a woman in engineering! Lead by example :)


Become an active member of a girl's STEM program...here in Austin we have "Girlstart" which has become highly influential; http://www.girlstart.org/about-us


Looks like there is a lot of good stuff happening in Colorado too...https://ngcproject.org/node/9449/programs


Be involved and support other girls who show an interest: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CoCoSTEM-Colorado-Collaborative-for-Girls-in-STEM/455762737790876?ref=ts


Best,


Bridget

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Nabil’s Answer

Representation, representation, and more representation! Women sharing their experiences working in STEM makes a difference.
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Amber’s Answer

I think it's important to have female role models to tell about their experiences pursuing STEM. In today's world, we need more females on social media speaking about STEM and sharing photos of their everyday lives in STEM fields. I think our younger generations want to experience and view what their future will look like. I think more and more organizations need to highlight STEM positions for women and how exciting a career can be in STEM. I think lots of mentoring and education about the fields in STEM and how to build a career will be valuable in the future. I encourage every young woman or girl to reach out to STEM related organizations to see how they can volunteer, intern or participate in events or programs to get their feet wet to see if they want to pursue a future career in STEM.

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Lauren’s Answer

I agree with so much of what others have said here. I think it's crucial for girls at a young age (before they are completely discouraged from STEM) to see women who look like them and have had experiences like them. Seeing people who you can relate to being successful in a career is a huge motivator. Through many workplace Corporate Social Responsibility programs professional women are mentoring younger girls, but there's so much more we can do!
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Alison’s Answer

In a nutshell: Encourage interdisciplinary work that combines STEM with other fields, so that there isn't just 1 caricature of what it means to be in tech.

There is often a stereotype that people in tech live lives that are 100% about tech all the time. Often, these people seem to have coded from a young age, spend all their time on personal coding projects, and only care about technology. This can be very daunting and discouraging for folks who are newer to tech or have a variety of interests and experiences.

I always tell others that tech is a tool, which makes it important to have a variety of people wielding this tool and applying it to the problems that are most important to them - building something to improve the lives of those close to them. Tech is also very powerful in interdisciplinary settings, whether as a creative tool (using technology in music or art) or perhaps to support professionals in fields like medicine.

I personally didn't code until college, and I remember I initially felt like my various interests prior to that (such as music or psychology) detracted from my qualifications as a software engineer. Then, I realized that I could combine my passions - for example: within psychology, I was particularly interested in linguistics, and I ended up focusing on Natural Language Processing, which leveraged my skills in both linguistics and computer science. This made me both more confident about what I could bring to the table in a tech setting and also helped me identify an area of interest within the broad field of tech.
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Grace’s Answer

As a parent of two daughters, I'm definitely interested in this topic. I agree with the other contributors here that it's great if you could by example. Other ideas:
1) There are many organizations, such as Girls Who Code, that are promoting interest in STEM for young women. Even broader mission-based organizations such as the Girl Scouts now incorporate STEM programming in their activities.
2) I find media to be super influential for young women. Examples of inspiring movies, biographies - are there ways we could create continual touchpoints for young women to spur their interest in this field?
3) STEM is so ubiquitous in our lives, that sometimes finding ways for these conversations into the everyday activities we do could be a reminder of how it is an approachable and important area it is for young women. It could be something as simple as deconstructing a board game or how it works, or solving puzzles together, or doing creative projects that make use of STEM principles.
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