This is a subject I see consistently being discussed online and in meetings I’m involved in as part of my job. That is how do we get more girls/women involved in STEM? I don’t mean for this to be “THE” answer, but part of it for sure, and its not that difficult to implement.
So what is it?
Provide a broad, rich, integrated curriculum that includes science, engineering and inquiry based learning opportunities from an early age. Pre-school is not too early – and it is solid learning, so it should start there – but honestly I got students in 4th grade that came with almost no experience in those areas, and provided lots of STEM and/or project/problem based opportunities for 3 years, and my girls were just as involved, interested and motivated as the boys in STEM (and I know other teachers that have had similar experience).
Perhaps the problem of getting girls/women “involved in STEM” is that too often what we offer in elementary school just doesn’t include much in those areas. And certainly during the “No Child Left Behind” and Race To The Top” eras, the attitude was and is to narrow the focus during elementary school to language arts and math, and when students get to middle/junior high school “we’ll catch them up” in science, social studies, art and more (yeah, that’s worked well). AND to introduce students to STEM and “making” and other subjects as late as 7th grade … that’s when gender based biases, because students haven’t become interested before those impressionable, difficult years, become an issue. 7th grade is TOO LATE for students to be just finally introduced to those subjects, pedagogies and experiences.
So again, I’m not saying this one “intervention” would entirely solve the girls/women in STEM careers issue by itself, but I suspect it might be a pretty important piece of it.
What are your thoughts?
Learning is messy!