Spark and Sustain Girls’ in STEM

Aug 19 2019

Karrie Castro

I took a trip when I was 13 and fell in love with airport travel. I told my dad I wanted to be a stewardess. He said “Why not be a pilot?” It was 1981, women didn’t do that. He knew what was coming. Thanks, Dad. – First Officer and mentor Karrie Castro

 

Girls are growing into STEM superstars. Recent test data from The Nation’s Report Card shows that US 8th grade girls’ technology and engineering scores surpassed boys’ scores. As encouraging as this trend looks for expanding women’s future in STEM fields, other evidence suggests that girls and women lose interest in STEM subjects overtime due to a lack of interaction with mentors and role models. 

Building Brave’s STEM mentors show up for girls and women. They know girls need more role models, hands-on learning, and encouragement to stay motivated in STEM’s still male-dominated fields.

STEM skills serve many fields

BuildingBrave_Mentor_JanetteBraverman

Janette Braverman

College and Business Management Dean Janette Braverman mentors and empowers young women to pursue STEM careers. She helps them understand they can pivot across all fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math– and enjoy other areas/industries, too. Many of her mentees succeed in getting their dream STEM job. After several years, many also feel stuck or alone in a male-dominated world. Janet drives home the beauty of the STEM pivot; how STEM skills are highly transferable to many fields. She herself is a Dean and public/government official with an IT/systems, strategic and operational background. It can be done!

Get involved and have fun

Educators, parents, and STEM professionals can engage youth in fun learning that boost confidence and skills.

  • Invite STEM professionals to attend career/resource fairs, community picnics with kid activities, as guest PTO speakers, for curriculum nights, and for parent/grandparent days
  • Give classroom talks with hands-on activities: A woman veterinarian sewed rocks and keys into a stuffed animal, x-rayed it, and had kids make a diagnosis. Then the kids put on surgical gloves and watched her “operate” to remove the foreign bodies
  • Focus on the STEM elements of kid activities: Baking involves math (measurement), and the chemical reactions of the ingredients and heating element. Search easy home science experiments like making rock candy, slime, or Playdoh. Building blocks make for teachable engineering and physics moments, as do stomp rockets and endless toy projectile possibilities
  • Talk with middle school and high school kids about their challenges and ask them to envision what an app might look like to address them
  • Sponsor classroom or club outings to science and technology museums
  • Contribute your time or ideas to creating and supporting clubs and summer camps for kid inventors, coders, entrepreneurs, etc. 
  • Gift subscriptions to science-based kids magazines or interactive media, donate (safe, age-appropriate) educational toys like Legos, snap circuits, unifex cubes to schools and community centers

Download Building Brave’s Mobile Mentoring app for more advice from professional women at all ages and stages. Get guidance for your specific situation, or consider fresh voices and perspectives.


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About the Author

Meghan Wollack

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