February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. And as we all are aware, even today, the prevailing biases and stereotypes are sadly ones that continue to hold back women from STEAM fields (or to hold them back from staying there). Which is why I wanted to put down some of my thoughts about ways to support women and girls in science.
I grew up in a household and environment where I never felt I was being held back from anything I wanted to pursue, be it a STEAM field or otherwise. But that is not the case for many others, as I have seen over the years.
This is certainly due to what seems to pervading society. Which is why each of us needs to take a stance and take steps to ensure these biases, differences, and stereotypes become a thing of the past for our future generations. When I recently read the book titled Your Brain on Stereotypes, I found myself thinking twice about my own unconscious biases.
That led me to find out what might happen if I take the Implicit Test. Disclaimer: I am yet to take this test but linked it here if you want to check it out. This test does not take too long and is an online test for unconscious bias.
There are so many things we can do to work towards these goals, not just on these earmarked days but year-round. So while you might end up reading this post after the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, you can do it any day, and everyday.
So here are
5 Ways to Support Women And Girls In Science
Talk to Women and Girls in Science
For all ages…
Look at the women and girls around you, or in your neighborhood or community. It could be your doctor or dentist, your neighbor who works at the tech company, or someone you know who runs a STEAM business all by her own, or that niece who loves experimenting with slime or robotics.
Talk to them and learn about the whys and hows of their interest in science. And then talk to those who seem to act upon those biases and stereotypes and think that STEM/STEAM is not for them. Encourage them to explore, learn, and let them know that it is for everyone.
Maybe you could interview one of them and make a post about it! (Maybe I should do that as well..)
Dress Up or Act It Out
For all ages.. especially fun for younger audiences..
Make it a fun event. Pick earmarked days (like February 11th, or November 8th – which is National STEM/STEAM Day) or pick just about any day (as I mentioned earlier), and dress up like your favorite woman in science. Or put on a play featuring them. It is a doable option for virtual events too, and everyone will learn more about these inspiring women in the process.
Make STEAM More Appealing and Available
Those biases and stereotypes I mentioned earlier make girls approach STEAM fields differently. While there are many girls and women in biological and social science fields, the numbers reduce in engineering related fields, and reduce further in research in these fields.
But we can make all science fields more appealing to everyone with a few strategies, like
- Watch fun videos (like this set Edutopia has put together here – 8 Videos to Encourage Girls in STEM)
- Get STEAM related toys for girls and boys alike.
- Find more programming and shows that feature girls and women in STE(A)M fields. According to a study, just 12% of characters with identifiable STEM jobs onscreen were women. And conversely, also watch shows of men and boys in female dominated fields (as well as apply this to the other strategies too!)
Support Programs and Organizations
Support the programs that work towards fostering interest in girls towards STEAM, as well as in encouraging girls and women to continue in those fields. This support can come from as little as sharing information about them, like I am doing through this post, donating to these organizations, or volunteering for them, and even learning more about them.
Here are few I listed below (and there are so many more)
- Girls Who Code
- National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP)
- Black Girls Code
- STEM for Her
- Association For Women In Science (AWIS)
- Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)
- National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)
- Million Women Mentors
- Code to Inspire
- Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
- Society of Women Engineers
- Pretty Brainy
- Women Who Code
And of course, given who I am, this last item on the list is kind of obvious!
Here are a few books to inspire young (and older) readers towards STEM.
- Ocean Speaks: Marie Tharp and the Map That Moved the Earth –
- 4 Super Cool STEAM Books That You Will Love — 3 of these featured books’ authors are women
- Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy
- Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM
- Women in Biology
- Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight
- Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane
- Learn Python With This Wonderful, Creative Read
- Ada Lovelace (for the littlest readers, from the LPBD series)
- Brilliant Ideas from Wonderful Women
- She Spoke
- The RadWomen series
- The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
And then some more….
- STEM Books from Andrea Beaty, David Roberts
- Code Your Own Adventure
- Little Learning Labs: Astronomy for Kids
- 4 Super Cool STEAM Books That You Will Love
These are some articles I read recently that I wanted to share with you
- 3 things to know about women in STEM (WE-Forum)
- Why the STEM gender gap is overblown (PBS NewsHour)
- International Day For Women And Girls In Science 2021: 5 Inspiring Women Of Science (IB-Times)
- Can We Keep Girls Interested In STEM If We Make It Prosocial? (OpenColleges)
- Gender equality in STEM is possible. These countries prove it (WE-Forum)
- 7 Ways to Get More Girls and Women into STEM (and Encourage Them to Stay) (TheJournal)
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, as always I welcome your comments and thoughts on this post. Which of these suggestions appeals to you the most? What are some ways you support STEAM for girls in your everyday life? Do let me know. Who are some inspiring women (and girls) in science that you know of?