Female engineers earn 33% more than women in other fields, but only 13% of engineers are women. There are currently 3 million unfilled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs in the United States, and 80% of jobs in the next decade will require technology skills. STEM jobs are calling for women, but where are the women? Well, if girls aren’t encouraged to enter STEM fields, what will make them do so as adults? The Girls in STEM campaign aims to encourage girls of all ages to become engaged with STEM.
There are two major issues that result in a vicious cycle of girls not entering STEM: 1. Lack of prominent female role models. 2. The representation of girls in the media. The media rarely highlights girls or women in STEM activities or careers. When it does, the portrayals are often inaccurate. Science and math are often depicted as too hard for girls to understand. While certain concepts may be difficult, anyone can understand them if they try and have encouragement. Many girls will give up after encountering difficulties, and begin to lose confidence in math and science as young as seven years old.
By saying that STEM is too difficult and isn’t “cool” to do, the media is dissuading girls from pursuing it. Girls rarely have any STEM role models that are living today, despite the fact that they do exist. Many teenage girls want to be the next Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy) or Olivia Pope (Scandal), two incredibly strong TV protagonists. And while there’s nothing wrong with having Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai, or Laverne Cox as your hero (as they are all amazing and incredible women who have accomplished great things), it’s hard to go into a profession as a girl without seeing someone that looks like you thriving in it. Although women make up half the workforce but less than 25% of STEM jobs, women are succeeding in these fields. Their stories just aren’t being told. The accomplishments of real life women in STEM must be spotlighted, and the women themselves need to be promoted so younger girls can look up to them. Not only are they worthy role models, but no two women in STEM are the same, which is a great thing. We need to crush current stereotypes, and this begins with demonstrating that the stereotypes are false.
We at Day of the Girl want to eliminate the stigma of coding and STEM. We hope to empower girls and spark their interest in STEM through coding. Coding is one of the most accessible aspects of STEM -- it only requires a computer, an internet connection, and motivation to learn! It’s free, easy to pick up, and you can build anything with it! Even if you aren’t currently interested in STEM, coding is the literacy of the future. It’s composed of many languages, and is a form of writing and creativity.
We want to help you learn how to code, so we created a list of STEM resources complete with free coding websites, along with after school activities, camps, and links to many very cool initiatives.
We are additionally launching a coding contest. If you submit your work, you will have the opportunity to be featured on our website, social media, or blog! You can have immortal internet fame and you may also be interviewed! Even if you aren’t selected, creating a project is super empowering, fun, and you will learn a lot.
If you’re not interested in entering our coding contest, but are involved in STEM and want to be featured on the blog, you can fill out our Women in STEM Wednesday Q&A form! This interview will be featured in our new blog series, Women in STEM Wednesday. Any female-identifying person over the age of 13 is encouraged to fill out the form! This blog series aims to show how females involved in STEM are complex and multifaceted, and have many diverse interests. Check it out here!