3 Ways to Help Introduce Girls to Engineering TodayFebruary 24, 2016
The numbers are striking: Girls are graduating from high school on nearly equal footing with boys in terms of math and science achievement. Yet, by the time they’ve graduated college, women hold just 19 percent of engineering degrees. Once they’re in the workforce, they make up only 12 percent of engineers, which is just 2 percent more than in 1990. And just because they go into the field doesn’t mean they end up staying — women leave engineering jobs at higher rates than men do.
That’s many lost opportunities. When paired with computing, engineering stands out from the broader STEM category as one of the fields that offers the best opportunities for the greatest number of people. Combined, the two fields make up 80 percent of STEM jobs and tend to offer highly lucrative career paths.
While solving the gender representation equation is no small or easy task, we know that getting and keeping more girls interested in engineering is a key first step. And here’s the good news: There’s something you can do about it right now.
Whether you’re introducing a girl to engineering for the first time or supporting your favorite future engineer, here are three ways you can help.
1. Encourage them to tinker and build with at-home experiments and toys.
Check out the products below to help you engage with the girls in your life. You might even learn a thing or two while you’re at it.
March’s StemBox contains a lemon battery, and the experiment is just as fun as this picture is adorable.
StemBox delivers fun, age-appropriate science experiments right to your doorstep. The monthly subscription service sends young girls a fun and educational science experiment each month. Prices start at $28 per month, and StemBox’s partner Green Works has some pretty cool at-home experiments to try while you wait for the mail.
GoldieBlox provides custom-tailored construction toys for girls both young and young at heart.
We love Goldieblox — and not just because founder and CEO (and 2015 NCCWSL Woman of Distinction) Debbie Sterling referred to our research while developing this fantastic product. These award-winning construction toys make engineering fun and accessible for young girls.
2. Read our research for the best recommendations.
Download our research report on the gender disparity in the engineering and computing fields, and read our recommendations for educators (page 105), parents (page 108), and girls (page 109). We have plenty of great tips and advice, from creating welcoming classroom environments to cultivating a growth mindset, to choosing courses.
3. Support Our innovative STEM education programs.
As exemplified by our member-driven STEM education programs AAUW’s Tech Trek and Tech Savvy, not all STEM education takes place in the classroom. These programs encourage middle school girls to expand their knowledge and abilities in STEM through fun and educational activities, with some pretty awesome results. Your support can fuel the programs’ expansion. Give to AAUW to help us grow and change the climate for women and girls in STEM.
The students we introduce to engineering today will literally build our future. We owe it to them — and to ourselves — to make sure that we include today’s girls in tomorrow’s engineering workforce. Introduce a girl to engineering today to give her a head start.
How will you commit to introduce a girl to engineering? Comment below with your favorites from our trio, or make suggestions of your own.
Marketing aimed at recruiting girls into STEM tends to fall into one of two distinct categories: geek pride and sparkle science.
Many of the best-known innovators of our time spent their childhoods taking things apart and putting them back together. Too few of these famous innovators are women.
One woman recounts the lessons she learned from her mother, who earned an electrical engineering degree at a time when less than 1 in 6 engineering degrees were earned by women.