There has been a lot of focus on women in the STEM field lately because only 11% of engineers in the US are women. But why does this gender gap actually matter? Having men as the majority among engineers hasn’t stopped progress or innovation, so why are people so concerned about getting more women involved in STEM?
Engineers make some of the biggest advances in our society. They are working on solutions for global warming, making medical breakthroughs, and developing life-changing technologies. With half the population being female, it’s important that the female perspective is included in the process of innovating new solutions and developing new technologies.
Are Boys Better At Science And Math?
Around the age of six, most young girls start to lose interest in math and science, and people use that fact to conclude that girls are biologically less adept at these subjects. However, data suggests something very different is going on.
Boys and girls were tested on science in 65 countries. All were given the same test. Around the world, girls outperformed the boys except in the US, indicating that lack of interest in math and science is cultural, not biological. It shows that girls are sent messages at a young age about what they can and should become as adults, and rarely are they told to be scientists or engineers.
What About STEM Majors In College?
Society is getting a little bit better about not equating gender with professions when dealing with younger children, but that’s not solving the problem. Only 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees are given to women. That means that women who pursue these majors may be the only female in their classes or one of just two or three. This can be frustrating for women studying STEM when they see that the field is still so heavily dominated by men, and they don’t see many (or any) role models like themselves among teaching staff.
How To Inspire The Next Generation of Female Engineers
Many young women discover they are at a disadvantage in some engineering classes because they don’t have well-developed spatial skills. Boys develop those skills by playing with blocks and construction toys as children. We can still buy little girls “traditional” toys that’s what they want, but it’s important to also consider getting them Lego sets and blocks and other construction-based toys to help them develop their spatial skills so girls who have a love of math and science can hone the important spatial skills they will need in their later coursework.
Some female engineers are working on ways to inspire young girls to pursue math and science. For example, many girls like reading, so Debbie Sterling, an engineer herself, developed GoldieBlox, a series of STEM-based games and toys for girls that allows them to design and build things while reading books and solving problems along with the main character in the story.
Toys like this help girls develop skills they wouldn’t normally develop playing with more “traditional” toys, and they encourage girls to ask questions and solve problems when they aren’t playing. As a result, they become more confident in their ability to do math and science, to solve problems, and to pursue careers in the STEM fields.
Are You Looking To Attract More Diverse STEM Talent?
If your company is looking for ways to attract a more diverse engineering talent pool, reach out to the expert recruiters at Selectek today. We can quickly and cost-effectively connect you with top talent who will help drive your company towards the future.