STEM: Are we really Making Progress

Written by: Reagan Flowers, PhD

There were so many great take-a-ways from the Women’s Global Leadership Conference (WGLC) in Energy.  The Theme, “Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Leaders”, was well received.  It is hard to imagine how anyone could have left not feeling inspired, encouraged, energized, more knowledgeable, and dreaming bigger.
Leading in male dominated industries can be challenging.  It was refreshing to hear from women who are figuring it out and paving the way in STEM industries.

When we look at were we are currently with Women in STEM, data shows that we must begin in elementary school with getting girls interested in science.  The gender gap widens in middle and high school, 3% to an 11% gap with boys demonstrating more interest than girls.

Some recommended best practices with getting girls more interested in STEM disciplines/careers includes:

  • Providing opportunities for girls to experience STEM as early as Pre Kindergarten to start building their confidence and to allow them to be wowed by what they can do and see the impact of applying what they know to something meaningful.
  • Use of inspiring messages and images that are not demeaning and don’t exacerbate gender biases or imbalances.
To continue to move the needle forward we have to do some things differently.  A great place to start is with ones self.  There is tremendous room for more individuals to take ownership by making a commitment to excellence to write a future for girls leading in STEM.  The call to action is to create, collaborate, and support opportunities that provide access to relevant high quality STEM learning experiences.
We are somewhat bridging the diversity and workforce readiness gap that exists in STEM fields of study and industries. It seems K-12 schools need additional support with bridging the information and knowledge gap that continues to persist, particularly with minorities and females.