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Events / Hot Topic

The STEM Gender Gap: Gender Stereotypes and Effects on Children’s Career Aspirations

STEM festival Colorado

 Energy Day is a free, family-focused event attracting students, educators, and families, showcasing interactive exhibits to highlight the fun students can have in their future careers if they used their classroom skills to pursue STEM education.  This year’s Energy Day Festival is Saturday, Sept. 23 from 10 AM – 2 PM, at East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade, where you can learn, eat great food, and enjoy time with your family and friends.

What is the STEM Gender Gap?

The gender gap within STEM fields refers to the lack of women within science, technology, engineering, and math career fields. Studies show that although women make up about half of the U.S. college educated work force, only 27% of women work within STEM related fields post-graduation. The stereotype of STEM being a male oriented career path is perceived to develop at a 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.

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 they are lower performing males. 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. Which 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 their desire to have 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.

How do we close the STEM Gap?

Gender Bias begins at such an early age, and it is pretty difficult to extinguish the matter completely. So what can you do to encourage your sons and more importantly daughters to pursue a STEM career? Having encouraging teachers is vital to a child’s interest in STEM, but having encouraging parents as well makes a world of difference. Girls who are encouraged by their parents are twice as likely to retain interest in STEM and pursue career interests. After school clubs and activities that are STEM oriented help to reinforce the idea that kids are in fact capable of STEM careers. 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.

To learn more about STEM and get your student involved in subjects that could lead to amazing career paths, or even if you want a fun, educational day out of the house – come down to Denver’s Energy Day Festival!

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Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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