By: Mariana Gay
JL Boston members recently gathered at league headquarters for a special training and discussion about how we can get girls in our community excited about the many opportunities that STEM has to offer. Joining us for the training were panelists Leslie Coles, executive director and co-founder of Moms as Mentors, Margot Sigur, lead STEM advisor and facilitator at Moms as Mentors, Kate Pickle, a STEM learning consultant and Tish Scolnik, CEO of GRIT (Global Research Innovation and Technology).
1. One of the biggest barriers for girls in STEM is confidence.
Panelists and attendees discussed how confidence is a major factor that affects girls’ interest in STEM fields. Many times, when they hit a barrier, it’s easier to quit and say that they aren’t good at it. It’s important to show them that just like many things, it may take practice to improve.
2. Messaging is important.
A key way to ensure that girls stay encouraged and build their confidence is with positive messaging. Some of us may have said (or heard) the phrase “it’s ok, I’m not a math person either – don’t worry.” Girls may feel that STEM fields are something that they can’t conquer. Try to frame gaps as opportunities to improve. Make it a challenge and figure out how to tackle it together.
3. Get them interested by finding ways to connect their interests to STEM.
Do they like fashion, painting, or sports? Think of connections between their hobbies and STEM fields. There may be more connections between them than you realize. For example: the materials in textiles, geometric patterns, or the velocity of a moving football.
4. It only takes a few experiences for girls to find out their passion in STEM areas.
Experiment, try activities and see what engages them. Each girl is different and will be inspired and learn differently. Tactile activities are a good start to get them interacting with design and understanding how things work together.
5. Many girls want to solve problems that matter to them.
Show them how STEM can help to improve the things that they care about, real world problems. Whether it’s animals, helping those in need or preserving the environment – STEM can improve upon current solutions and help solve future concerns. Get them thinking about the possibilities and excitement of making a difference by solving difficult problems.