Despite the increasing demand for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & math) skills and graduates, student passion and enthusiasm for STEAM subjects is still incredibly low…and considerably lower for girls!
With under-representation forming in early years, gender gaps in STEAM are present from primary education, progress through the school years and follow on to careers (on average, women account for a mere 27% of the STEM workforce!). Too many girls are discouraged from pursuing STEAM careers. That said, educators play a significant role in engaging ALL learners in STEAM subjects and can provide opportunities to students to help them reach their full potential.
With that in mind we have put together a few steps you can take to prepare, motivate, and inspire girls to succeed in STEAM careers!
Promote STEAM heroines and professionals as role models:
The role models represented in the classroom can influence how students identify themselves. Educators can affect students’ perceived capabilities and provide a standard for students to strive for. Take advantage of influential individuals and incorporate positive female personalities in the classroom. You can even inspire students by coordinating visits from local STEAM professionals and help girls envision their future STEAM careers!
Uncover any unknown biases and educate yourself on stereotype threats:
Societal biases, prejudices and misconceptions exist. Educators play a role in helping girls cope with the biases that stand in the way of STEAM engagement. Mindful actions, challenging biases and acknowledging gender norms can help to ensure that we are encouraging female participation and that we are taking suitable steps so that we do not unintentionally exclude certain students from STEAM experiences.
Inspire girls to develop their own STEAM identity:
A lack of identification with STEAM subjects can leave many students struggling to see themselves having a future in STEAM. Often girls will underestimate their abilities, leading to a lack of interest in the field. Educators can provide girls with opportunities to be recognized as innovators by their peers. Try empowering girls to take the lead when teamworking. When students take ownership of their decisions, they will realize what they can accomplish.
Create fun and interactive STEAM activities:
Increase students’ enthusiasm for STEAM with fun, hands-on STEAM activities and lessons. Looking for lesson inspiration? Check out our learning portal for engaging Marty the Robot lessons!
Link STEAM to students’ daily lives and everyday experiences:
Create relatability for students by cross-curricular learning. Take Marty for example. Marty integrates across the curriculum – from literacy to social and mental wellbeing! Shed light on the relevance and practicality of STEAM learning by linking STEAM experiences to meaningful, engaging student experiences.
Creating a gender-inclusive classroom will require an environment of support, safety, and acceptance.
Are there any changes you’d like to make to create a more gender-inclusive classroom?