Making STEM appeal to girls

Just one in seven engineers are female, only 27% of all computer science jobs are held by women, and women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000. -- Forbes Magazine, 2014.

Science, mathematics, engineering and technology like most things worth having, is hard work. As an educator, it can be hard to get students to consider or pursue courses where their gender is significantly outnumbered. Here are a few ways to succeed in making those courses appeal to those nontraditional students:

  1. There is a term in K-2 education called early literacy. Establish a campaign that begins in K-2 called early STEM innovators. Once the campaign shows growth, present the data findings to your department of education for a statewide initiative to produce STEM thinkers early.
  2. Establish a mentorship program with successful women in STEM. This mentorship reaches far beyond guest speakers and field trips. The mentor truly immerses herself in the educational success of the student(s).
  3. Create learning environments where students are able to solve problems that face your town, city, state or our country. Each project should be aligned to the varied STEM careers with a fluent understanding of the interdisciplinary connections. Present the findings (student presentations) to women in STEM, corporations and community.
  4. Be open and honest about this one thing, “self-motivation, determination, and self-discipline are required to win”. Winners are deemed #1 and it does not come easy. In order to win in any career or personal endeavor you must remain focused, as the aforementioned are simply the vessels to assist along that journey.

We have an intentional and purposeful commitment towards attracting and retaining girls in STEM. STEM is a destination reach for girls/women to innovate, predict and solve the problems that shape our world today, tomorrow and beyond. The global workforce is waiting on them, which is a CTE MATTER!

Eboni Camille Chillis, coordinator of career, technical and agricultural education for Clayton County Public Schools in Georgia, also writes for ACTE's Educators in Action blog.

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