What can I do as a high school student to encourage more girls to pursue STEM fields in the future?
I am currently a senior in high school and I am interested in studying STEM in college. I realize that women in the STEM field are far and few between, so what can I do as an individual to help more girls explore STEM fields in school?
#women-in-stem #math #science #engineering #technology
I love your question!!!
There are so many ways to encourage more girls to pursue STEM fields. Start by looking at each school or organization you belong to for opportunities - if they don't exist, create them. What I mean is create a STEM club or work on a STEM project together to spark imagination. Start with a small achievable project. Find a STEM activity that is relevant to your current interests and student body. It doesn't necessarily need to cost money. You could do a lesson or project on "weather" or "space" or volunteer on a community project that is important to you. Or invite a teacher or a speaker/practitioner to talk about STEM careers. You could start a mentoring or tutoring program. Try to make the experiences as hands on as possible.
Its really important to network and find other girls/women who are also interested in STEM. Join a student chapter of IEEE when you get to college. Study with other students interested in STEM. Keep up to date on new innovations - watch TED Talks, go to free lectures at school/the local college/planetarium. Talk to anyone who will listen about STEM and how important STEM is for our future since 70% jobs in 2020 will require a STEM background. The most important thing is to give and encourage girls/women STEM experiences and demystify these fields. Once you build a radio or see a planet in a telescope or see a cell under a microscope, you get it: this makes STEM real and approachable.
Finally always pay if forward and make opportunities and time for girls/women as you advance in your career. Definitely visit your high school or grammar school and spread the word that STEM is a great opportunity. You are a role model right now and can definitely encourage more girls to pursue STEM fields.
Victoria recommends the following next steps:
Victoria listed some great advice! You could reach out to a science teacher at your school to see if they would be interested in sponsoring a STEM club. I know when I was in high school, I was part of a STEM club and we would actually go to competitions to compete against other high schools. It was a great way to see how STEM could be fun and not just about homework.
I would also look into joining student associations depending on what major you pick in college. I was part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) during college. Aside from hosting career and networking events, SWE also had a few event each year where we put on a day of activities to get local girls interested in STEM. You could also get together with a few other high school students to put on an event for local elementary, middle school or girl scouts in the area. There are a lot of good activities online that do not cost much. Some examples are building a candy bridge out of all sorts of candy or building a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. Hands on activities are a great way to spark interest in STEM.
Kate recommends the following next steps:
I love this question and your desire to get more girls interest in STEM fields. There are a bunch of fantastic nonprofits that are supporting efforts to get more girls into STEM - from the Girls Scouts (who now have a STEM badge!) to ChickTech and Girls Inc. It would be great to find a nonprofit in your area you can volunteer with, or form your own chapter of something like FIRST Robotics or MESA and then encourage and inspire local girls to join you!
One way that you can personally shed light on STEM careers is by bringing role models into your school so other girls can learn about career paths they can take and be inspired by the types of jobs and companies they could work for in STEM. Lots of people lack the awareness of all the different kinds of STEM careers that are out there - so helping them visualize what it's like to be in STEM - either by meeting a professional or by going on a field trip to see STEM professionals in action is a great way to share some excitement and inspiration!
Your question just paints you as a leader for sure :) ....keep that trait!
I can only add to some amazing advice that you've already gotten. You and a some friends should check out a few Summer Engineering programs (offered by Universities around the country) to test your respective interests in the field(s) of Engineering. That will be a ton of fun and give you a genuine perspective on what engineering is all about. Programs of note who "walk the walk" in terms of Women in their respective engineering programs? Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan (with the latter having nearly 1/3 of their students from undergrad through PhD being women. Look up Debbie Taylor, AD of Women in Science and Engineering). Once you're done with those summer experiences (and there is more than a singular experience to be had), then spread the word to your colleagues.
Note: Some of those aforementioned experiences end in significant scholarships to the school....just sayin'!
Abbey recommends the following next steps:
My only addition to the comments above is to keep talking about it. The best way to encourage more girls/young women to pursue STEM fields is to talk about it. If your school has a STEM club, join and promote it. If not, start one! Take every opportunity you can to get in front of groups of young people and talk about it, encouraging them to ask questions if they think they may be interested.
Tina recommends the following next steps: