My 15-year-old daughter is at the crossroads, trying to figure out her career. Sitting at the dining table last night, she told me how much she enjoyed doing math but wasn’t sure if she wanted to be an engineer. Last year, she told me how much she hated her technology applications class largely because the male instructor was totally boring and even if a kid wanted to take a STEM degree, this class was enough for them to make up their minds. I told her math could open up so many opportunities in different fields and told her that it’s okay to be a girl in science. I gave her a few tips that I learned from talking to highly successful women who made their careers taking STEM courses.
- Girls succeed in STEM if they believe that educational success is key at a young age.
- Parents must set clear rules and guide them once they decide on taking a STEM career.
- A great teacher can create a spark for robotics, be a mentor and take them on a great path forward.
- Some kids believe that math and science are not cool subjects, especially between the ages of 12 and 14. Dispel this myth at home.
- Young girls sometimes feel that there is no place for them in robotics and in other math classes as they are mostly male dominated. Drive home the success factor, how much they can earn, be independent, travel and live a good life. Ask them to be aggressive and argumentative.
- Lack of representation in math classes sometimes leads to a feeling of isolation among young girls. Teach them that it’s okay to be a girl in science.
- Give them access to diverse role models as this will help young women identify themselves with others as they pursue STEM careers.
- The father has an important role in inspiring young kids to get into STEM.
- Have meaningful conversations that teach kids about how STEM careers can make a difference in people’s lives.
- Finally, tell them that they don’t have to get a STEM degree to work in STEM. Women can be in marketing or in finance that uses a lot of STEM skills but necessarily does not need a STEM degree.