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Putting a Hammer to the Glass STEM Ceiling – Current Research on Girls in Science

explore the galaxy of hands-on science

Broadening Girls’ perspectives on STEM Careers helps them consider all options from an early age.

The glass ceiling is an invisible, but real barrier in many industries and especially in STEM related fields.  While more and more women are entering science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields, they still only make up a little over a fourth of the workforce.

According to the National Girls Collaborative, only 11% of physicists and astronomers are women while 17% of the civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are female.  Female chemists make up 35% of the field. The most notable gap in the gender workforce is in the computer and high tech industries. According to Catalyst

Dr. Cathy Olkin from the Southwest Research Institute, is a leading Planetary Scientist and an advocate for girls in STEM Careers.

.org whose mission it is to accelerate growth for women in the workplace, women make up only one-fifth of the job force in that industry.  Also concerning, the women who do work in these fields make 20% less on average in the same role as men. But as a whole, women who work in STEM industries receive a much higher wage than working in other areas.

What does it all mean for Girls in Science?

It means that a growth mindset needs to be embraced by all parties: parents of girls, educators, employers and industries.  More women in the STEM workforce allows companies and industries to develop in ways that don’t just help 50% of the population and increases their relevance to a much larger market.

In a ForbesWoman article, Moira Forbes asks female professionals prolific in their STEM fields of biomolecular and computer engineering, how to narrow the gap. Solutions include educating girls that they don’t have to be Einstein mathematically in order to be successful in a number of STEM fields; likewise, they suggested inspiring and fostering curiosity (in other words, let your daughter take apart that old cracked iPhone).  Brittany Kendrick who has a Master’s of Science in Urban Infrastructure Systems, shared that societal paradigms need to change. “As a Black Woman, a Civil Engineer, bred by the public schools on the southside of Chicago, it is my personal mission to resist the social, economic, and political structures that are in place to discourage my ability and pursuit.” Other girls deserve the same, and so advocacy and enlightenment need to continue.

Dr. Temple Grandin, internationally acclaimed scientist and advocate for hands-on learning suggests that girls need early exposure to STEM subjects in order to develop a passion for them.

Kids will seldom see themselves in careers and fields where they don’t see themselves represented (whether it be gender or race).  The more exposure girls can get to see women in STEM industries will help ignite girls interest and plant the seeds they need to see themselves growing in STEM industries.  Likewise, a girl won’t know her options until she is exposed to them.  The more activities, camps, events where girls can get messy and explore the varied degrees and career opportunities in STEM, the better!

 

Meet a Maker: Martha with Maker Boulder

I am a serial entrepreneur with three small start-ups under my belt (well, one of them is not a startup anymore as we’ve been in business for over five years). My first venture is my ongoing education consulting firm. The second is an electronic word game – similar to Scrabble, that you play on your computer or phone, only it has some unique rules, and the third is MakerBoulder, we produce events and activities that connect people to hands-on learning.

What do you make?

In addition to making businesses, I am a “try-anything-once” crafter – I’ve done a lot of scrapbooking, needlework, sewing, and photography, and I dabble in duct tape, gardening and a few other random crafts. I also love to cook.

How did you get started making and why?

I don’t have a choice, really. I can’t sit idle. Even in front of the TV. My mind needs to be creating something, so I keep trying new things. Some stick for a while, and some are abandoned (even before they are finished sometimes).

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?

I wear this silly duct tape apron to a lot of events. It’s been photographed over two dozen times, and once a mother and daughter made me stand there while they talked about their own – before I could leave, they had each designed their own projects, and made a plan to get together to make their own. It actually made me feel really great – to see them creating in action, and to see how excited they were to try to make one on their own. That’s what this is all about – get your hands dirty, try things out, iterate, etc.

What is your advice to people looking to do what you do or make what you make?

Just do it. The first one won’t be perfect. The next one will be better. No matter what, you’ll feel great about making something.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

The look in someone’s eyes when they discover something new, or when they accomplish something for the first time. “I did it!”

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I hope it is just like it is today. That I get to try lots of new things, dabble in a few favorites, and with any luck, work with others to help them try things, too.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

Well, I’ve always wished I could make great music – but I can’t sing, and I can’t seem to learn to read music, so that’s a struggle. Aside from music, I’d love to learn to work with metals – silversmith, or even heavy metals – welding. So cool.

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Meryl Streep. Sandra Bullock. The CEO of Tech Stars. My Mom.

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