Increasing Diversity in STEM
Diversity is incredibly important for a community, for an organization, for a team, and for success. Diversity begins with access to a good education, resources, and role models that support young girls’ dreams. Fostering diversity requires moving beyond a mandate from corporate, and creating a culture that sees past gender, age, or other surface characteristics. We are inherently drawn to like-minded individuals, but we need to learn to see the benefits of perspectives other than our own.
In order to increase diversity in STEM, we must begin by exposing girls to activities and programs that introduce them to the world of STEM and familiarize them with foundational skills. Math and science teachers play a critical role, and it’s important that they work in creative ways to connect with and bring out students’ nascent STEM interests. We are just beginning to understand the myriad ways we can engage and excite students in STEM.
Closing the Gender Gap
The barriers to closing the STEM gender gap are the same ones women have been facing for decades in the workforce. Although feminism has come a long way, the responsibility of caring for a sick child generally falls to her mother. The Covid-19 crisis is highlighting this issue even more, as schools have started closing early, putting greater pressure on mothers to balance work and family. It’s important for professors and employers to understand the different requirements of individuals, and to find reasonable solutions. Flexible school and work environments help level the playing field for women.
STEM is Changing Our World
There are two big shifts in the past decade that support women in STEM: technology in our day-to-day lives; and broader access to STEM schools. Technology has taken over our daily lives and we take it for granted; think about the last time your internet was down for a day. Most toddlers can use an iPad or touch screen as well as, or better than, their parents.
STEM schools provide children of all backgrounds a unique insight into the possible and prepare them with the skills they will need to succeed in an economy that is increasingly dominated by STEM. My eight-year-old niece attends a STEM school in Colorado, and I’m amazed and excited to see what she is being exposed to at such a early age. If she continues with this curriculum, she will be graduating high school with skillsets that will open up her entire future.