How can schools better engage girls in STEM?
- Talmesha Richards from Million Women Mentors and Melissa Moritz, deputy director of STEM initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education, recommend schools engage girls in STEM subjects at a young age.
- Schools can invite professional women who work in STEM fields to classrooms for regular visits, as well as bringing students on field trips to STEM workplaces in order to spark interest and foster awareness.
- Real-life connection and real-world experiences are crucial, the experts say, and suggestions for increasing engagement include challenging sexist media portrayals of which people work in STEM jobs, experimenting with innovative classroom instruction, incorporating mentorship and starting STEM exposure in pre-K.
There's been great news related to girls' performance in STEM subjects recently, with National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results on literacy in engineering and technology showing for the first time girls now lead the way. They outscored boys in engineering and tech literacy, with 45% of girls and 42% of boys scoring as proficient. Yet although the gender tide may be finally turning, the results don't yet translate to the workplace, where fewer than 26% of computer and math jobs are held by women.
Experts echo the recommendations made by Richards and Moritz in District Administration, saying engineering and technology instruction needs to begin as early as possible. Research from the NAEP has also shown that the achievement and confidence gap between girls and boys in science and math begins widening at ages 9 and 10.
The Harvard Family Research Project recently unveiled a newsletter citing a need for STEM learning to begin at home, saying math knowledge in particular "is one of the best predictors of later school success, and that it develops anywhere, anytime, starting at birth." The newsletter contains diverse articles on incorporating math learning into daily life at home and ways math can be promoted with digital media.
- District Administration How schools fuel female STEM participation