If we are discussing the question of why STEM is important for girls, then we must wonder if and why girls would not naturally be involved.
Shari L. Camhi
Superintendent, Baldwin Union Free School District
Innovation comes from looking at things through varying perspectives and multiple lenses. It is this range of opinion that allows for numerous and various ideas, which is important. In the United States, there are as many girls as boys; in fact, it is almost an even split, with girls at a slight majority. Why would we eliminate more than 50% of a population from engaging in the most critical work, study, and innovation? Careers in STEM encompass today’s engineers, medical scientists, sociologists, and informational security analysts, all of whom help shape our global economy and healthcare system.
The United States Census Bureau reported in 2021 that women account for just 27% of employees in STEM-related careers, despite making up nearly half of the current workforce. Some of the most in-demand and lucrative careers of today and the future — computer science and engineering — remain male-dominated. At the college-level, students majoring in STEM-related fields are predominately young men.
Creating a new normal
We need to recognize that the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) promote a specific type of thinking that should be nourished by all our young people. STEM fosters problem-solving and creativity through a hands-on, real-world approach. The opportunity for our students to fully engage in activities using this methodology provides deeper learning experiences and the ability to explore and pursue interest in careers that they might not otherwise consider.
By empowering our girls, from the elementary level all the way through high school, we can help decrease the gender gap that we still see today. Offer a robust STEM curriculum, programs, and guidance to all students, especially those who initially lacked the confidence to pursue such a field due to pre-conceived notions. By not embracing girls in STEM, we could lose out on future innovations and discoveries that may potentially change the world for the better, whether it is a medical marvel or a technological advancement. Simply look to the women in STEM today for such examples.
So, let’s push our girls in the classroom to create a computer program, conduct a science experiment, fly a drone, or play chess so we can get to a place where one day, the question of the importance of girls in STEM will seem dated.