Empowering Girls Through STEAM: Insight From Top Science Educators
You are about girls' empowerment, and so do we. That's why we reached out to some of the top science educators to get their insights on how best to support girls in STEAM.
We heard a lot of great ideas, but five themes emerged as the most essential. Without further ado, here are the five ways educators say we can empower girls through STEAM:
1. Encourage them to pursue their passions.
2. Teach them the importance of collaboration.
3. Help them find their voice.
4. Offer positive reinforcement.
5. Make STEAM opportunities available to them
Introducing Girls to STEAM: What You Need to Know
So how do we get girls interested in STEAM? According to the experts, it starts with introducing them to these subjects early on.
"The earlier we can introduce all children, but especially girls, to the opportunities that STEAM disciplines offer, the better," says Dr. Eugenia Cheng, mathematician and author of How to Bake Pi. "We need to provide them with positive experiences and role models so they can see that these are not just boy's subjects."
It's important to provide girls with diverse STEAM role models, both female and male. "As a scientist, I know that there are many ways of being a scientist and many ways of doing science," says Dr. Elena Bodnar, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. "Girls need to see that science is not just a white upper-middle-class man's game."
Hopefully, with more exposure to STEAM disciplines at an early age, we can help break down gender stereotypes and inspire the next generation of girls to pursue careers in STEAM fields.
Strategies for Making STEAM More Appealing to Girls
Even with a concerted effort to make STEAM more appealing to girls, there are still some lingering stereotypes that need to be addressed.
One way to make STEAM more appealing to girls is by providing more opportunities for hands-on learning and creativity. Girls often prefer activities that allow them to be creative and use their imaginations.
In addition, it's important to provide positive female role models in STEAM fields. Girls need to see that it's possible for them to succeed in these areas, and they need mentors to help guide them along the way.
Finally, it's important to create a supportive environment where girls feel comfortable asking questions and taking risks. Girls can be very self-conscious, and they need to feel safe and respected in order to explore their interests in STEAM subjects.
Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
It's not enough to just provide opportunities for girls in STEAM, we need to create an inclusive learning environment where they feel comfortable taking risks and exploring their passions.
Here are some tips from top science educators on how to make your classroom or workspace more welcoming for girls:
1. Avoid using gender-specific adjectives when praising students' work. For example, say "nice job" instead of "nice job, girls."
2. Don't make assumptions about what girls are interested in or what they're good at. Let them explore a variety of subjects and activities.
3. Create an inclusive learning environment where girls feel comfortable taking risks and exploring their passions.
4. Encourage girls to build relationships with other female students and educators. This can help foster a sense of community and support.
5. Speak out against gender bias and stereotypes whenever you see them happening.
Overcoming Obstacles to Female Involvement in STEAM
As an educator, it's important to be aware of the obstacles that could discourage girls from pursuing a career in STEAM. From low expectations to unequal access to resources and limited role models, these issues are all major factors that put girls at a disadvantage. In order to level the playing field, it’s important to create an inclusive environment that encourages and supports girls in STEAM.
One great way to do this is by taking extra steps to ensure that the curriculum is gender-neutral and focuses on fostering positive relationships between students and teachers. Also, providing access to resources like coding classes and summer programs or STEM clubs can help bridge the gaps for girls who don't have access at home or school. Finally, it's essential to have strong female role models who can show girls what their future could look like if they pursue a career in STEAM.
Leveraging Technology and Digital Media
Technology and digital media can be powerful tools for presenting science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts to students. For girls, this may look like using augmented and virtual reality to explore the world around them or creating digital stories to explain scientific phenomena. By leveraging technology and digital media, educators can provide girls with the opportunity to explore STEAM fields on their own terms.
In addition, giving girls access to technology-driven projects such as coding or designing websites can help spark their interest in STEAM topics in a way that is both creative and engaging. Technology-driven activities also have the potential to empower girls by providing them with an outlet that allows them to gain confidence and skills while having fun.
Promoting Positive Role Models in STEAM
Another way to help motivate and empower girls in STEAM is by providing them with positive role models. Whether it's in real life, in the media, or online, having access to empowering figures can do wonders for a young girl’s self-esteem and career path. There are plenty of female scientists, engineers, and innovators who have made incredible achievements in the field. Hearing their stories can encourage young girls to think about their future possibilities and the ways that they, too, can make a difference. A great way to share these positive role models is through movies, books, and articles about inspiring women in STEM.
So, how can we empower girls in STEAM? Here are five science educator-approved ways:
1. Let girls explore a variety of STEAM topics.
2. Build confidence in girls by praising their accomplishments.
3. Encourage girls to ask questions and take risks.
4. Promote collaboration among girls.
5. Support girls’ STEAM education at home and at school.