Author - Sarah Daren

Inspiring Girls to Study STEM

STEM Girls

Despite some progress that’s been made in the last few years, it’s no secret that the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are still male dominated. While there are some legitimate concerns about discrimination and hostile working environments, these factors alone aren’t necessarily what’s driving the lack of gender equality in STEM.

For many girls, getting shut out of these growing fields begins much earlier—in the classroom. At a young age, many girls are interested in these fields, but tend to lose interest as they enter high school and college. So why are girls losing interest in STEM and what can be done to reverse this trend? Here are some ideas for how to get more women interested in these important careers.

The STEM Landscape and Women

Although many large companies have claimed to be making their workplaces friendlier toward women, the numbers are still disappointing. Just 29 percent of workers in science and engineering are women, even though half of all college graduates are female. Why this imbalance? It has a lot to do with our education system and how the United States still views gender roles.

One of the biggest obstacles in getting more girls interested in STEM fields long-term is our cultural expectations. Whenever engineers, scientists, and tech leaders are portrayed in the media, they tend to be white males. Because of this, girls just don’t have the role models they need to inspire them. Some teachers also internalize these messages (usually subconsciously) and don’t encourage girls to study STEM subjects enough.

Job Prospects by the Numbers

One of the reasons it’s so important to get more women involved in STEM fields is to improve innovation in these industries and to help close the gender pay gap. On top of that, these fields are experiencing massive growth. Employers are struggling to fill openings in science, engineering, and tech, with the number of open jobs sometimes outpacing graduates in technical majors by more than double.

We need more talented women in STEM careers to help move our economy forward and improve the output of these fields. In the near future, more and more jobs will be added to these sectors and American companies will begin to lose their competitive edge if they don’t have enough skilled workers.

Ways to Encourage Involvement

Cultural changes take time, and they often start by educating the next generation. If young girls in elementary school and junior high are encouraged to take an interest in STEM subjects, it will begin to normalize these careers for women and bring more role models in for girls to look up to. Once that ball gets rolling, we should start seeing more and more girls interested in STEM all the way through high school and college. That encouragement has to start with schools and with parents.

So how can teachers and parents inspire girls to dive into STEM? Here are some ideas.

Connect them with inspiring women in STEM

Even though there are fewer women than men in STEM fields, there are still female engineers, scientists, and programmers doing great work for companies all over the world. It can be inspiring and empowering to have these role models come and speak to a class and answer their questions. It can even be beneficial for girls to read about the women who have beaten the odds and become successful in male-dominated STEM fields. Grace Hopper, Sally Ride, and Ada Lovelace are all great options for inspiring women girls can look up to.

Use online resources

Sometimes, kids feel a lot of pressure and criticism in the classroom, especially over STEM subjects. Teachers and parents can direct girls to online resources or bring those resources into class for interactive projects. Taking the pressure and stereotypes out of teaching STEM subjects is key for encouraging girls to develop an interest in these areas. Making projects and topics relevant to girls’ lives can help them explore possibilities in the future they may not have considered.

Attend events

STEM camps, Hour of Code, and other STEM-focused events can be a great way to inspire girls. Parents and teachers alike can arrange these events that bring people together and showcase all the exciting areas STEM subjects cover.

The Potential Path Forward

By educating girls and encouraging them to get involved in STEM subjects, we can start to change the world (and the economy) in a big way. When women start businesses of their own, these companies perform twice as well as those founded by men and create more than 60 percent more value for investors.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to get more girls interested in STEM. But it’s time to stop talking and start doing. Women have a lot to offer STEM fields—they just need to know why they should pursue these careers.

With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health, education and business sectors. Daren is passionate about inspiring students and teachers alike to find innovative ways to approach learning, particularly younger women who she hopes to help motivate to close the gap in executive positions and STEM industries.

Mental Health Awareness Starts with Teachers

Mental Health

For educators, mental health awareness is essential. Teachers are often the first line of defense for protecting children’s mental health. There’s much that educators can do protect the emotional well-being of young learners. However, the first step is awareness.

Educators who learn to spot the signs that indicate when a student is struggling with their mental well-being can help them to avoid or recover from trouble. Because of the personal relationship that effective educators share with students, teachers are well positioned to help struggling learners.

While experience is a vital tool for navigating any situation, teachers can’t always rely on it when dealing with troubled students. It takes a special frame of mind to work with and manage students who have trouble controlling themselves, focusing or paying attention.

Despite these distracting and disruptive habits, more than likely troubled students still want to succeed. It’s easy to label these kinds of children as attention seekers or slackers, but what they need is patient and persistent guidance.

Furthermore, it’s important not to overwhelm students who are struggling with their emotional well-being. As an example, it may help to assign homework with a two-day lead, rather than asking them to turn in work the next day. Additionally, gamification, a relatively new teaching method, can make learning more fun and less stressful.

Educators must also maintain their own mental health. Self-care is just as important as protecting the mental well-being of brilliant, young minds.

Evidence-based programs can help troubled students grow emotionally and socially. Mental Health America (MHA) — a nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health awareness — recommends resources such as the Pax Good Behavior Game as well as the Positive Action Program and the Raising Healthy Children Program to help students in this regard, especially younger learners. These tools leverage social and emotional learning to promote improved life outcomes.  Research has shown that the programs reduce the likelihood that a student will commit a crime, lessen the chance that they will need public assistance and improves learners’ career outlook.

Finally, teachers must find and highlight the positive characteristics of students. This is especially empowering for learners who are struggling with low self-esteem.

Teachers are also individuals. They have dreams, desires and goals, just like anyone else. Because of this, the teaching role can sometimes make professional educators feel as though they’re leading a double life. It can be confusing and exhausting to maintain and balance these two identities, but while this is challenging, it’s not impossible.

One effective coping mechanism is exercise. It’s a great way to maintain and improve one’s physical and emotional health. For some teachers, it’s one of the few activities that helps them to clear their mind.

Also, busy educators may typically find that they only have time to attend mandatory social events such as birthdays, anniversaries and other important functions. Unfortunately, this habit can lead to stress and burnout.

It’s important that educators socialize, personally and professionally. During socialization, hard-working educators may find an understanding ear that can help them to maintain a healthy balance between their personal and professional lives.

Further Reading:

Mental Health Resources for Students and Educators

Addressing the Escalating Psychiatrist Shortage


With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within the health, education, and business sectors. Daren is passionate about inspiring students and teachers alike to find innovative ways to approach learning, particularly younger women who she hopes to help motivate to close the gap in executive positions and STEM industries.

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