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The lack of representation of girls and women in STEM-related subjects and careers is regularly reported on the news and social media. You’ve probably seen the stats, but just as a reminder:
Moreover, the absence of women in STEM careers has a global impact, as The World Bank points out in this blog post:
‘the fact that women are not entering these fields of study or working in these sectors and occupations means that talent is being misused and that economics are less productive than they could be.’
As educators, it is crucial we work to improve female representation in STEM related careers. In Issue 5, we discussed the importance of making STEM subjects relevant to students’ real life. Girls’ views about STEM subjects and careers are made throughout their education, so a great thing to do is to introduce your students to female role models during your lessons.
The Microsoft research cited above found that ‘girls who know a woman in a STEM profession are substantially more likely to feel empowered when they engage in STEM activities (61 percent) than those who don’t know a woman in a STEM profession (44 percent)’. Thanks to entrenched gender stereotypes, girls and young women can find it difficult to picture themselves in STEM roles. Bringing female role models into your classroom helps remind girls they have a place in these fields as well.
There are plenty of ways to bring female role models into your classroom. Here are some ideas: