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Why we need women in STEM and why STEM needs women



We know there's a gender imbalance within the STEM field. However, STEM needs women.

In 15 years time, even with all the uncertainty, one thing which we can say for sure is that a career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) curriculum offers a lot of different opportunities for girls. The opportunity to shape our world and them having job stability in a world which is becoming more and more of a tech-focused marketplace.

Ksenia Nadkina, the Calgary Chapter Lead STEM educator of Girls Learning Code, a Canadian charity aiming to increase the participation of girls in technological fields, said that “Things are changing so quickly. Ten years from now, everything from making coffee to counting money will be done by machines and computers. Jobs like barista and teller will be obsolete, why not prepare girls for the future?”.

Even now, there is a massive gender imbalance that persists in STEM-related fields. Whilst it is difficult to estimate across industries, the number of women in STEM-related jobs can be as low as 10% or up to a maximum of 30% even though having women involved offers so much to the fields. Without females in the field, we’re missing out on the ideas of half of the population.

Recent innovations that have come from females have been revolutionary: a smartphone attachment allowing parents to diagnose ear infections, and even a water-purification system that uses an inexpensive photocatalyst and sunlight to produce clean drinking water.

A way to help young children get interested in the idea of science and other STEM subjects is to try to be open to their ideas, if they come up with an idea, always think how it’s possible to do it. By doing this, they see how their ideas finish, it’s not just something they thought would be fun but never get to try out. They don’t feel like they’re not allowed to do things which are interesting for them. Equally, it lets them know they’re being listened to. Even if it doesn’t go the way they expected, they learned from the experience, they carried out an entire experiment with their own idea… It gets them engaged, they didn’t have to do it, they did it of their own accord.

With interactive touchscreens, it enables you to share the content of your iPad or different pedagogically aimed software. For example, in a science lesson, you can easily show the methodology of the experiment to the whole class at once, without having to pass an iPad around. It’s at the front of the screen. Alternatively, you can use a coding app off of the Google Play Store to teach the whole class about how to do from coding at any skill level from beginner to expert based upon their age and experience. Having this at the front of the board invites the attention of the whole class, without any unintentional gender bias towards boys and STEM; which without proper attention being given, can be how it feels for girls in the lesson.

STEM needs women. Fields in STEM has a severe lack of women, yet that gap isn’t being filled as well as it could be. If we encourage our girls to follow whatever path they want to and introduce interactive technology to aid the teaching of STEM specific subjects, gender stereotypes won’t prevent them from following a career path into STEM. It can be difficult to think they can go into science if all of the teachers in their school are male, and they’re only being taught about male scientists, despite the fact that there are many incredible women in science. We need to show them they can follow that career path if it is the one they want to.

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