At the OECD Forum 2016 in Paris this June, the Deputy Secretary-General revealed the newest global research on attracting women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) careers.
It is 2016…Still very difficult to attract and retain young women in STEM!
The problem areas have been well known for years – teaching methodologies, research subsidies, employee policies, and gender pay gaps. It is a long list of areas to tackle, but for me
It all starts at home.
The attitude towards studying mathematics and science does not start at school, it starts well before first grade, when parents consciously or sub consciously start to stereotype their little girls –
- During role play…hairdressers, nurses, princesses. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does for me when I was little,
- When observing their first role models – mum and dad at home,
- When self-doubt about school subjects and grades kicks in at school,
- And then later in life when education options are discussed at home.
Do you know that first grade girls believe their performance in math in lower than boys? When actually it isn’t.
Up to 4th grade, boys and girls perform equally at maths. Yet, the seeds of perceived inequality are already planted.
Working with parents is where work should start first and progress over the years. Start with showing these biases and making parents aware. Discuss in the community and present to parents educational and career paths in science, tech and engineering while their children are in primary school, so they can chat at home about what it takes to be a data scientist, software engineer, geneticist, or astronaut.
I am a mother and have worked in technology all my career, I see it every day at home and with close friends – girls and then young women are being slowly pigeon-holed away from sciences, math and coding. We as parents need to change that and work with teachers and educators, instead of just passing the baton to schools and universities.
Make Girls Can.
See full OECD Women in STEM video, the first 15 minutes present the research, followed by a panel discussion.
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