Silicon Valley giants are actively engaging in STEM (Science technology engineering and mathematics) education for women because according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, jobs in STEM have enormous prospects in future. It is observed that women are underrepresented in the STEM fields and so getting more women in the field will open a new horizon of opportunities for them. Most girls inherently love writing, reading, drawing, decorating, painting, and art work that block them from exploring STEM. As a result, they choose fields that do not involve science and math. While creative fields of arts, humanities, and social sciences are equally important, we also want these girls to step into the pioneering world of sciences for better future.
My internship at Jay Pinson STEM education program gave me a chance to work in the outreach programs with the under served communities of San Jose bay area. While working with the kids I found out that maximum girls in these communities keep away from STEM because they don’t like math. On the contrary, we observed that the girl students in our outreach programs did their STEM related projects with utmost interest and focus. Fourth and fifth grade girls along with the boys delightfully engaged in sawing wood, making circuit connections, soldering, and making games on computers.
For me, this experience highlighted the undercurrent reasons for poor representation of girls in STEM such as preconceived notion about math and science as difficult and boring subjects, lack of women role models working in STEM, and domestication of girls at home. Somewhere unknowingly, the pink culture of fairy tales, princesses and Barbie dolls also overpowers girls to limit their imagination in the innovative world.
Therefore, to bring the girls into STEM they should be encouraged to explore colorful scientific dimensions, participate in STEM fields by experimenting with technology from artistic perspective and cultivate curiosity in math and science with creative techniques. The Jay Pinson STEM education outreach program is one such attempt of introducing girls to the world of math and sciences. We taught students in these outreach programs to make solar power cars. Students made different wooden car models with measuring, cutting, sawing, and pasting. They also fixed the circuits and soldered them. Their excitement doubled while making solar panels with delicate hands and decorating the cars. It was fun to watch them play and race with their cars in the outdoors. Similarly, we also ran a cyber security module that taught the kids essential Internet safety rules. Kids were taught to make their own games and learn basic coding with programs like Scratch and Microworlds. Finally, they made their own projects in Scratch demonstrating their understanding of cyber security through interactive animations. When asked if they would like to pursue an engineering or science related profession in future the students were all for it. I think, outreach programs like these are stepping stones towards encouraging girls in STEM and Silicon valley giants who fund such programs in the community are doing the precise thing to safe guard the future of women in STEM.
Davis, R. (2014). Women in STEM and Human Information Behavior: Implications for LIS Educators. Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science, 55(3), 255-258.