Unfortunately, there is a clear gender discrepancy in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, with males far outnumbering females in the field. At present, there is a lowly 25% of women in these industries.
It’s certainly not about ability though: research has shown that girls get more A*-C grades than boys in all STEM A Levels, except Chemistry.
This article aims to advise the parents of young girls like yourself in helping their daughters to pursue STEM subjects and close the gap between the number of women and men in the industry once and for all.
Promote on-screen role-models
The reasons behind the gender imbalance behind STEM are hotly debated, but lean towards lack of positive exposure. According to a Microsoft study, girls are far more likely to choose such a career if they have a role model who inspires them.
If she can see it, she can be it, so increasing her exposure to females in STEM is essential. For real life STEM heroines, take a look at this inspiring video conference from PMT Education that was hosted by all-female speakers. They shared their personal experiences of STEM at both university, university equivalent and career level.
Or, watch a motivating film with your daughter: movies have long been powerful mediums for social change, and the portrayal of female STEM characters may directly contribute to girls having certain notions of what a scientist can or cannot be. One film that documented this topic wonderfully was Hidden Figures, released in 2016, about black mathematicians working at NASA in the 1960s.
It’s hardly rocket science, but increasing the exposure of female role models through their influences is one approach to attracting girls to STEM disciplines.
Aim high with tailored tuition
In recent years, more and more parents are hiring private tutors to help their children through their A Levels and gain admission into university. According to the Department of Education, “tutoring is one of the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress. Evidence suggests that small group and one-to-one tuition can boost progress by three to five months per pupil.” So, if your daughter is thinking of taking one of the STEM A Levels, private tuition is an option well worth considering.
Students receiving private tuition get more access to the teacher, whether in small groups or one-on-one. The teacher can also guarantee that sessions are tailored to the student’s specific learning needs, meaning it can do wonders for test results, building confidence and understanding realistic career opportunities.
Due to the competitive nature of the job, tutors are normally multi-skilled and highly experienced with excellent communication skills. Moreover, it is common for leading organisations to employ top graduates from within STEM for teaching and mentoring services. Your daughter may also benefit from a gender-matched tutor, with recent experience herself climbing the ladder, who could aid her with a sense of camaraderie, empowerment and technical advice.
Look for extracurricular activities
If your daughter is reluctant or disheartened about her STEM prospects, why not arrange some hands-on experience that’s both educational and inspirational? Extracurricular activities offer opportunities for students to become more enthusiastic about STEM courses while also gaining practical, collaboration, and leadership skills. Furthermore, this can supplement her classroom learning, university application and employability.
There are many clubs and charities available now that provide specialist subject support, with lots exclusively for girls — from cool coding clubs to marvellous maths meetups. For instance, STEMettes is a UK based charity that offers motivational speakers, interactive workshops, and mentoring services to girls aged five to 25. Additionally, the National STEM Club works with schools and families to engage children in practical and engaging activities, while TechCamp offers holiday clubs themed around engineering, construction, and design. We urgently need more diversity across these disciplines, and it all starts with girls like yours.