What is the STEM Gender Gap?
The gender gap within science, technology, engineering and math refers to the lack of women within STEM career fields after college. Studies show that although women make up about half of the U.S. college-educated workforce, only 27% of them work within STEM-related fields post-graduation. The stereotype of STEM being a male-oriented career path is perceived to develop at kindergarten age, but the association of STEM being a male-dominated field is still strong throughout a child’s junior high and high school careers.
One of the ways that parents can overcome their children’s own bias to this gender gap is by bringing them to a neutral and fun experience like Energy Day Colorado on Saturday, September 25! Find out more about the event at the end of this article.
What is the reason behind the STEM Gender Gap?
The gender gap within STEM fields has not necessarily evolved from males outperforming females academically, but because most boys choose to further their education in those fields. In fact, males outweigh females in the workplace with a 4-1 male to female ratio.
In a recent study, NYU researchers found that males are more likely to pursue STEM-related careers compared to women even if the males are lower performing. Girl’s self-confidence is a necessity in being able to perform at a high level in STEM classes, and most girls lack this characteristic. This in turn directly affects young girl’s motivation and overall enjoyment in STEM-related activities and classes. Not to mention the underrepresentation of women in this field also diminishes the amount of role models for young girls to model themselves after.
The more girls that pursue a career in STEM, the more female role models there will be for future generations. Furthermore, most girls lack the knowledge of what STEM is, the opportunities that STEM careers can give them, and how to pursue a career in those fields. Most girls seem to identify with pursuing a creative career path, but not many make the connection that creativity and STEM go hand in hand. Only 37% of girls think certain STEM jobs can involve being creative.
How do we close the STEM Gap?
Gender bias begins at an early age, and it is difficult to extinguish it completely. So what can you do to encourage your sons and more importantly, your daughters, to pursue a STEM career? Having encouraging teachers is vital to a child’s interest in STEM, but having encouraging parents too makes a world of difference. Girls who are encouraged by their parents are twice as likely to retain an interest in STEM and pursue their desired career interests.
After-school clubs and activities that are STEM-oriented also help to reinforce the idea that kids are capable of any career in STEM-related fields. In fact, 77% of junior high and high school girls felt more powerful in the pursuit of their STEM career path by joining an after-school club. As the interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sinks lower and lower, more employers are searching to hire bright students as new technologies emerge every day. It’s time to encourage our children’s interest in science, technology, math, and science for years to come. So there’s no better time than now to get them interested in STEM than at Energy Day – a free family festival, Saturday, September 25th from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. where you can do just that! See you there!
To learn more about Denver’s Energy Day Festival, click here!
In partnership with Mile High Mamas.