Complex problems demand creative solutions.
While STEM fields continue to produce life-changing innovations in response to these challenges, a lack of diversity may hold us back from even greater solutions that benefit everyone.
The research paints a startling picture: though just as capable as their male counterparts in both math and science subjects, as they age, girls on average lose interest in pursuing a career in STEM.
In fact, a 2019 study conducted by the research group Engine found that only 9 percent of girls between ages 13 and 17 were interested in a STEM career — down 11 percent from a similar survey conducted a year before. A recent study by Microsoft found similar results and blamed the decline on a combination of negative stereotyping, peer pressure, and a lack of relatable role models.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects record STEM job creation into 2024, if current trends persist, women will continue to represent a mere fraction of this innovative workforce. We can no longer accept the status quo.
A better future
Fortunately, recent research from Opportunity Insights provides an exciting solution to combating the lack of diversity in STEM. The nonprofit’s researchers found that while wide disparities in innovation exist by socioeconomic class, race, and gender, exposure to innovation at a young age can level the playing field.
Promoting diverse STEM role models will help children not only discover their own potential, but also to see and respect their peers’ potential as well, creating an atmosphere of inclusivity and collaboration.
While the effectiveness of relatable role models has long been promoted by educators, applying this same principle to STEM subjects is a novel approach to encouraging underrepresented groups to never give up on their dreams.
National Inventors Hall of Fame, [email protected]