It’s the international day of women and girls in science, but did you know that women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM careers? With female workers making up just 23% of employees in core STEM occupations like science, engineering and IT, encouraging girls to choose STEM subjects is the best way to create a more balanced workforce. It’s easier said than done, but schools can help motivate girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths subjects by offering these 5 incentives.
1. Early enthusiasm
Girls seem to enjoy STEM subjects in primary school, but many lose interest as they move into secondary education, picking up on a feeling that science, technology and maths are boys’ subjects. By teaching inspirational and inclusive science, technology and maths lessons from the early years onwards, schools can work to retain that initial interest and nurture girls’ talents.
2. IMAGE CHANGE
Many females feel that STEM isn’t for them because it isn’t creative and doesn’t reflect their interests. That’s a marketing fail; many STEM-related subjects and careers involve a high level of creativity, with some crossing traditional subject boundaries to apply scientific thinking to an artistic field. Broadening the remit of traditional STEM subjects to show how they apply to subjects as diverse as gardening, crafts and cookery is a great way to improve their image and turn more girls on to the potential of STEM.
3. WORK EXPERIENCE AND CAREER ADVICE
It’s vital to educate girls about the range of potential STEM careers out there that could be open to them if they study maths and science at school. Careers in web development, forensic science and robotics are inherently attractive, but there are plenty of other exciting STEM jobs that female pupils may not consider. Schools can develop work experience taster programs, designed to educate students about the wide range of potential STEM careers, and encourage girls to take STEM subjects further.
4. Positive female role models
It’s hard to aspire to a career in science if society says it’s not for people like you. That’s why women in STEM careers play such an important role as ambassadors for science and technology, to the young girls who follow in their footsteps. Schools can help provide positive role models by inviting women in science to run workshops or give talks about their careers. Introducing some inspirational women who have made a difference, such as Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace and myriad contemporary role models, can also be effective. Finally, senior female pupils studying STEM subjects can act as mentors to younger girls, showing them the reality of STEM as a student.
5. STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITIES
Science, technology and engineering are forward-thinking, hi-tech subjects, but school science labs can be dull and dusty places that don’t always reflect this. The right learning environment for science and technology will demonstrate to girls that STEM subjects are exciting and modern. Green Modular educational buildings are attractive, cost-effective learning spaces; read more about our educational products to discover how your future science faculty might look.