Girls & STEM: Overcoming the Hurdles
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Make STEM Fun at Home
If you’d like to encourage your daughter’s exploration of STEM at home, there are so many ways to do it. GoldieBlox and LEGO are a great way to start. There are also a bunch of monthly subscription science boxes geared specifically towards girls: StemBox, Yellow Scope, and blink blink are just a few.
Exploring girl-focused STEM websites like Engineer Girl, Black Girls Code, Made with Code, Girls Who Code, and Pretty Brainy is another great idea. These sites are specifically designed to be attractive to girls, with feminine design and plenty of photos of girls and women at work.
While part of me is a little leery of gender-specific marketing (especially to the extent it reinforces gender stereotypes), another part of me can’t be mad at attempts to find innovative ways to push girls toward trying something they might otherwise have viewed as “for boys.” If we can make girls feel like a comfortable part of the scientific community rather than outsiders, why not use it to grab their interest?
Expect Girls to Succeed at STEM
This might be the most important piece of the puzzle. We need to leave our daughters with no doubt that they can succeed in STEM fields if they would like to. Joking about girls being bad at math and science or expecting them to do worse than their male peers is not as innocent as some people think. Our girls will take these things, internalize them, and assume they’re just not good enough. By showing our unwavering support and confidence in them, we can set them up to succeed.
Helping our daughters navigate their way past gender stereotypes is part of our job description as parents. Girls have a much easier time growing into driven, confident women when they come from encouraging families that push them to do their best. Studies show this might be especially true for girls in STEM fields. Let’s promise ourselves—and our daughters—that we’ll give them the support that they need to do anything that interests them.