As America struggles to find talent in technical careers, we’ve done a poor job of telling stories on why more women should take up science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. At a recent panel discussion on the role of women in STEM careers, women said they felt a sense of isolation that grew from being underrepresented in technical careers.
STEM careers offered less social acceptance as they grew up. One panel member said that she had to purposely fail a math course to find acceptance in her social circles that had a distaste towards STEM careers. Another felt she always struggled to have a sense of acceptance among her peers.
Women are leading the jobs sector in multiple areas. But STEM fields are male dominated and less diverse. Why should a girl interested in robotics at high school face social stigma if she wants to become an engineer? Here are a few ways we can make systemic change:
- Ask a professor in engineering to link dry equations and mechanical stuff to how they really change the world.
- Make simple changes in curriculum so that every science course adds a “make a difference” component. Value story telling.
- Fathers have an important role in nurturing young girls to enter STEM careers.
- Provide middle school students with diverse role models in STEM careers. Make sure that they are fun to relate to.
- Add mentoring and value-added internships at the high school level. Give this opportunity to students from all public schools, not just students from prep schools and élite private schools.
- Make sure that teachers teach science and math with passion. Unfortunately, our education system enjoys lengthy “common core standards.” This drains teachers’ time in adapting to standards. Make sure that bureaucratic standards do not take away the joy and passion of learning math and science.
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