One way to think about STEM learning opportunities is that each opportunity is like a charging station. Each opportunity allows children to charge up their skills and motivation in STEM. Some children have access to many opportunities. This lets them charge their skills and motivation frequently. But other children have fewer chances to charge their STEM skills and motivation. In our society, boys are often given more access than girls to STEM charging stations. It is then no surprise that boys are more likely than girls to show more interest in STEM as they get older.
As students get older, the gender gap in interest in STEM often gets bigger. This happens even though young girls get good grades in STEM classes, often even better grades than boys. There are many beliefs in our society that STEM is solitary and isolating. There are also other beliefs that certain groups of people are not as talented at STEM. These stereotypes can act as barriers that make girls or other minority groups feel that they do not belong in STEM. But these perceptions about STEM can be changed.
It is very important to send messages to all students that they belong in STEM. It is also important to communicate that there are opportunities to connect with other people when they do STEM. Teachers can help with this by inviting scientists with diverse backgrounds to come talk about what they do. Parents can also help their children notice the differences among people who enjoy STEM. Social media can be a good place to share examples, like the “I Look Like An Engineer” social media campaign.
- the support a caregiver provides a child to help them achieve more than they would be able to accomplish on their own
- (science, technology, engineering, math) a group of topics linked by a common focus and approach