Iowa Public Television


Helping Girls Find Interest in STEM Careers

posted on February 27, 2012

Helping Girls Find Interest in STEM Careers

How do you encourage girls to find a love of science and engineering? Women have made tremendous progress in education and the workplace during the past 50 years. While breaking down the gender barrier has seen some positive improvement, even in historically male fields such as business, law, and medicine, there is still an uneven gap between men and women in STEM careers. Even though women make up half the country's work force, they comprise less than 25 percent of STEM-related jobs and only 20 percent of bachelor degrees in STEM fields.

Efforts continue, however, to help encourage girls to seek out STEM-related careers. Through a little research, teachers can help schools, families, and communities create an encouraging environment that can disrupt the stereotypes about a woman’s ability to work in any number of the demanding STEM-related fields.

"Role models are extremely important,” said Allison Schwanebeck, an Exhibits Manager at the Science Center of Iowa. "It's important for girls to see other female scientists working in STEM careers rather than just men in lab coats." Studies show the huge impact that role models can have in influencing kids. The Science Center of Iowa recently held a SciGirls event where girls had the opportunity to meet other women in STEM fields. They explained what they do, why they are in their fields, and what steps are necessary for other girls to go into their particular field.

"By exposing girls to the range of possibilities available to them, kids can better see themselves in a role they may had never known about," said Schwanebeck. Women"s educational progress in STEM should be celebrated, yet more work is needed to ensure that women and girls have full access to educational and employment opportunities in STEM. "Teachers need to use all of the resources available to them," said Allison. "Show women working in the lab through a television program or bring a scientist into your class. Anything. In in the end, it's about encouraging kids to be curious and maintaining a positive image about STEM."


sci girlsEvery girl can be a SciGirl with a groundbreaking new TV show and interactive website that will transform the way tween girls look at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The empowering series has the right formula to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers with an engaging combination of actual girls exploring real-world science and math alongside successful female mentors in the field – plus an online destination unlike any other where young viewers can share their own exciting ideas and projects.

secret lifeSecret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Help your students see science and engineering as career possibilities. The web series offers ideas on how to use Secret Life videos and blog posts to reveal a personal side of science that many students can relate to. You will also find tips on how to use Secret Life as a launching point for discussion and further exploration.

Connections to Science

This series of videos target science students in grades 3-5 and grades 6-8 with a variety of topics and presenters.

Tags: education educators engineering girls science STEM teachers

Subjects: MathScience & Technology