American society holds a stereotype that boys have inherent skills for science and engineering. This stereotype deters women from pursuing careers in STEM-related fields. This could not be further from the truth. Numerous studies indicate girls actually outperform boys in STEM fields during elementary school. Unfortunately, these numbers decline by the time girls reach high school. Even fewer women major in STEM degrees in college because the majority of STEM occupations are heavily dominated by men. Only 18% of computer science degrees are held by women.
“Even in countries where women’s liberties are severely restricted, we found that girls are outperforming boys in reading, mathematics, and science literacy by age 15, regardless of political, economic, social, or gender-equality issues and policies found in these countries.” —David Geary, a child development researcher from the University of Missouri.
Lexi Herrick, writer for Huffington Post and author of the article Women in STEM Begins With Girls in STEM argues that the reason so few women end up in STEM-related occupations are because they’re taught to dislike science at a young age. Stereotypes prevent girls from being interested in science. Boys tend to receive more encouragement in math and science from their parents and educators. In order to secure a future with an abundance of women in STEM careers, we must encourage girls to show an interest in science, technology, education, and math subjects. The Brackitz team is changing the STEM by creating gender neutral STEM open-ended toys that promote creativity, imagination and technical skills for kids—girls and boys.
1. The single best thing parents and educators can do for young girls is to provide them with information about STEM fields and the opportunities they have as women with scientific capabilities. Having a positive image about women in STEM allows girls to see that women are powerful, capable, and intelligent. Create a culture of honoring and respecting women in STEM fields.
2. Remove gender stereotypes! Purchase toys and books that are gender-neutral! Don’t altogether stray from “girly” toys, but don’t limit girls to only playing with pink and purple toys. There are many companies now targeting young girls with pink building toys that prescribe certain roles—beauty and homemaking. Yet engineering, genetics and computer science are not like this. Why be specific about color—are bridges pink? Why tell kids what to build--innovation and discover are by definition not prescribed? Doesn’t making something exclusively pink automatically assume boys can’t play with toys unless they’re blue? Doesn’t building a beauty salon restrict options? Don’t boys and girls, men and women need to work side-by-side? Kids want to create things that matter--trust kids and their imaginations.
Providing gender-neutral, open-ended toys removes the boundaries and allows children to play with toys, regardless of gender. Gender neutral toys and open-ended toys create the opening for kids to imagine and build what they desire, not what they are prescribed to make. The motivation that comes from creation, trial-and-error and a desire to build what they want is invaluable to building a culture of science and innovation.
3. Incorporate successful female role models that are prevalent in STEM fields. Checkout these 5 women recognized for STEM innovations then ask yourself what was their motivation? Invite female doctors, scientists, engineers, and inventors to be guest speakers at schools, fairs, and large gatherings. Urge women working in STEM fields to share their stories and inspire others to overcome stereotypes. Providing examples of thriving role models may one day make a difference in someone’s life and career choices.
There is nothing more important, for teachers and especially parents, than creating a culture of learning technical skills for a child’s future interest in STEM fields.
Brackitz is the only construction toy that actually lets kids design any structure they envision – anything! Our one-of-a-kind Brackitz enable connections at any angle, allowing kids to use real-life architectural and engineering principles to create large-scale, gravity-defying, 3-D structures – with no limitations!
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