“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.” – Malala Yousafzai
In 2011, only 39 per cent of university graduates with science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degrees were women, according to a 2013 Statistics Canada survey. And the OECD — which has identified fewer than one in three engineering graduates and fewer than one in five computer science graduates as girls — notes that the gap “is likely because of stereotypes and expectations, rather than performance differences in math and science.” In other words, women are more than capable. In fact, women bring different experiences and perspectives to the table, and that diversity creates innovation.
As today marks International Women’s Day, The Learning Partnership wants to take this opportunity to highlight the need to bridge the gap and create opportunities for all students. Here are three ways to encourage girls to pursue STEM-related careers and, essentially, be more inclusive in the classroom.
Expose young girls to STEM at an early age.
Educators should strive to ensure that both boys and girls are being exposed to STEM-related courses and programs. As long as all students are getting equal exposure and opportunities, those students with a genuine interest in STEM, regardless of gender, will be able to develop that interest.
Encourage discourse in STEM and related careers.
Talk to your students about the relevance of STEM and its potential career paths. As the workforce becomes increasingly more diverse and technology-focused, the need for STEM skills is growing. For any student, a background in STEM can open the door to a range of career paths, from video game developers to molecular ecologists and medical researchers.
Use individual interests to connect students to STEM.
When talking to students about STEM, tailor it to your students’ individual interests. STEM can be applied to a range of interests, including web development, environmental sustainability or even astrophotography.
More girls in STEM means more innovation, but it also means that every student will have the opportunity to follow his or her passion.