It’s no secret that the STEM fields are struggling with an incredible gender gap problem. Even though they made up over 57% of the workforce in 2015, women only account for 46% of science professionals, 24% of computer and math professionals, 15% of engineering and architecture professionals and 10% of advanced manufacturing professionals (STEM2.org) — and those numbers aren’t exactly skyrocketing. According to a 2018 National Science Board survey, only 28% of STEM workers are women.
So, why are women so underrepresented in the STEM fields?
Well, as it turns out, that question isn’t an easy one to answer — there are many negative factors with their hands in this pot. On top of a lack of adequate early exposure, systemic oppression throughout history, collegiate support and pay gaps, there isn’t one fix-all switch we can flip on this problem, and this isn’t an issue that we can expect to resolve soon enough. To help solve the STEM gender gap, we have to start small — and early — if we want to have any hope of evening things out over the next ten years. For us to have the most significant impact on creating a welcoming, equally represented workforce, we need to start with today’s youngest learners. (For more information on the State of Women in STEM, click here to navigate to our Past, Present and Future of Women in STEM blog.)
One of the most glaring issues leading to today’s STEM problem is a lack of early STEM exposure and consistent encouragement throughout K-12 and college. Female students are not receiving enough STEM experience early on to encourage them to pursue STEM interests throughout their academic careers — we aren’t lighting enough sparks. Now, this isn’t to say the number of girls pursuing STEM degrees isn’t rising. In fact, from 2009 to 2016, there were 60,000 more degrees awarded to women, which is a substantial number — but when compared to men receiving STEM degrees, women are still underrepresented 3:1 (NCES). The simple facts are that a male workforce majorly dominates the STEM fields.
To help inspire a future of STEMpowered women, we’ve compiled a list of 10 incredible Resources for Girls in STEM.
10 Resources to Help You Empower Girls in STEM
1. STEM Like a Girl:
focuses on providing girls with the right tools to develop their own STEM identity. They think the term “like a girl” should empower young girls, not intimidate them. They believe that to spark an early interest, STEM education needs to start in elementary school. STEM Like a Girl puts hands-on STEM activities into the hands of young learners to increase their self-confidence and problem-solving skills regardless of their future career path. STEM Like a Girl focuses on three key factors: Early Exposure, Female Mentors and Parent Engagement. With affordable, research-based programs, they’re working hard to promote early elementary interest and excitement around STEM activities. By combining these three elements into approachable learning activities, they’re cultivating positive STEM identities for girls.
is a non-profit dedicated to increasing the number of women and girls pursuing STEM-based careers and retaining women in the technology workforce. Founded in 2012, ChickTech engages women and girls of all ages in the technology industry while working to create a better technology culture for all. ChickTech has made a direct impact on tens of thousands of participants, including girls, women and men.ChickTech provides opportunities and a supportive community to female-identifying students, professionals and companies to broaden participation in tech and provide equitable opportunities to all. Their programs include summer camps, ChickTech: High School, ChickTech: College, meetup groups for adults in tech, ACT-W Conferences, leadership seminars and wherever possible, they partner with other organizations to expand their impact. Through inclusion, diversity, empowerment and equality, ChickTech is working to encourage early STEM inspiration.
The Smithsonian provides STEM resources for all students with the belief that firsthand experiences in STEM will empower girls and young women, setting them up to be the history-makers of tomorrow.
Through their involvement in many STEM initiatives which seek to cultivate female STEM, manufacturing and design interests at an early age, they provide a long list of FREE 1-hour STEM lessons, 15-minute activities and STEM empowerment resources.
is a charitable organization working to bring other organizations together that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. Their goals are to:
1. Maximize access to shared resources within projects, and with public and private sector organizations and institutions interested in expanding girls’ participation in STEM.
2. Strengthen the capacity of existing and evolving projects by sharing exemplary practice research and program models, outcomes, and products.
3. Use the leverage of a network and the collaboration of individual girl-serving STEM programs to create the tipping point for gender equity in STEM.
5. STEM for Her
is a non-profit foundation focused on championing programs and initiatives that foster enthusiasm and empower girls and young women to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math fields of study. The Foundation offers financial support in a variety of ways as it works towards its vision of empowering women to change the world by excelling in STEM-related careers. STEM for Her provides critical funding for programs that foster STEM interests in girls and young women through the sponsorship of field trips, speakers, programs and curriculum development, and contributes program resources for clubs and after school groups in the D.C. Metropolitan area. These programs enable girls to explore STEM topics they might not otherwise have an opportunity to discover.
STEM for Her financial support has helped thousands of girls and women learn about the exciting opportunities available to them in STEM-related careers. Each year, STEM for Her seeks to significantly expand outreach to underprivileged and underserved girls. Staffed 100 percent by volunteers,STEM for Her is committed to helping more young women consider and thrive on STEM-related paths.
is an organization devoted to providing training, mentorship and outreach programs to increase the number of skilled women in technology and positively impact the community. With a vision to nurture generations of women who use tech to develop innovations and solutions for Africa, AkiraChix started small when a group of women came together and decided to work to change the landscape of the tech field.
This was the foundation of AkiraChix (Akira means energetic and intelligent in Japanese). They decided they would best impact this demographic by reaching out to young local girls from poor social and economic backgrounds who otherwise would have no chance of post-secondary education. Since its humble beginnings, AkiraChix has grown to include various other programs that impact women and tech in multiple ways.
is a website designed to bring national attention to the exciting opportunities that engineering represents for girls and women. Engineering and engineers are central to the process of innovation, and innovation drives economic growth. Diversity of thought is crucial to creativity, and by leaving women out of the process of innovation we lose a key component of diversity and stifle innovation. They want the creative problem-solvers of tomorrow to fully represent the world's population because they will be the ones to ensure our health, happiness, and safety in years to come. The site was launched in 2001 with input from a specially selected Girls Advisory Board—bright, energetic girls from all over the United States and Canada. In 2012 a new Girls Advisory Board was instituted to re-design the site for a modern audience. The ongoing work of EngineerGirl is overseen by the EngineerGirl Steering Committee. The website is a service of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and grew out of the work of the NAE Committee on the Diversity of the Engineering Workforce.
8. Girl Develop It:
is a non-profit organization that exists to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development. Through in-person classes and community support, Girl Develop It helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals and build confidence in their careers and everyday lives. Their vision is to create a network of empowered women who feel confident in their abilities to code and build beautiful web and mobile applications. By teaching women around the world from diverse backgrounds to learn software development, we can help women improve their careers and confidence in their everyday lives.
9. Girls Who Code:
is a national organization on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like. To build the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States, they offer learning opportunities for their students and alumni to deepen their computer science skills and confidence. Girls Who Code has also created programs that foster clear pathways for alumni from middle and high school who are looking to emerge into the computing world. Through a supportive sisterhood of peers and role models, Girls Who Code is working to create persistent, successful women in STEM.
10. Women and Drones:
Women and Drones is the largest online platform for women in the UAS industry, enabling women to connect, collaborate and make global business connections to grow their network. It’s their goal to inspire and support more females to pursue careers and opportunities in STEM and aviation. Through drone education programs, female STEM role models and drone-powered events, Women and Drones is working to create an inclusive work environment in one of the world’s fastest-growing STEM markets.
11. Bonus Resource - PCS Edventures:
From one-of-a-kind drone learning solutions to products designed specifically to instill a passion for STEAM in K-6 grade girls, we are a company of lifelong learners, teachers, engineers, STEMheads, coaches and geeks. We live for the evolution of STEAM and work diligently to create inclusive products that not only inspire tomorrow’s best thinkers but provide them with the unique, foundational learning experiences they need to pursue their interests.
At PCS Edventures, it’s our goal to make learning and investigation a fun, innovative and interactive experience for all ages. Now, are you ready to start a STEMventure?
Bridging the Gender Gap
It’s no secret that the STEM fields are struggling with an incredible gender gap problem — but with resources like these to help nurture a female-friendly STEM learning experience, the future looks a little less bleak and a lot more inclusive. Whether you’re encouraging young girls in your community or participating in a Girls Can Code event, make an effort to expand your boundaries and encourage those around you to pursue and explore their interests. You never know which great scientist of tomorrow needs a little push in the right direction.
If we can all work together — educators, administrators, parents, organizations, STEM partners — we can create a learning environment that is not only nurturing and motivating, but one that encourages communication through the unification of multiple STEM avenues. By sparking an early STEM interest, students will pursue more STEM degree paths, which in turn will bolster a more diverse group of STEM professionals. Together, we can make a difference.
For more information on how today’s STEM leaders are working to encourage Girls in STEM, check out the Girls in STEM and the Women Who Inspire Them Webinar.
AkiraChix. (2017). Home. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from http://akirachix.com/
ChickTech. (2019). Inclusion. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://chicktech.org/inclusion/
Girls Develop It. (2019). Don't be shy Develop it. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.girldevelopit.com/
Girls Who Code. (2019). About Us - Girls Who Code. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from https://girlswhocode.com/about-us/
Iridescent. (2019). The Global Technology Entrepreneuship Program for Girls. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://technovationchallenge.org/
National Academy of Engineering. (2019). Homepage. Retrieved July 12, 2019, from https://www.engineergirl.org/
National Girls Collaborative. (2018). Statistics. Retrieved July 5, 2019, from https://ngcproject.org/statistics
National Girls Collaborative. (2018). National Girls Collaborative Project |. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from http://ngcproject.org/
NCES. (2019, February). Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/raceindicators/indicator_REG.asp
Smithsonian. (2019, April 01). Girls and Women in STEM. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://ssec.si.edu/girls-and-women-in-stem
STEM for Her. (2015). Home. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from http://www.stemforher.org/
STEM Like a Girl. (2017). Our Approach. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from http://stemlikeagirl.org/our-mission/our-approach/
STEM2D.ORG. (n.d.). SPARK STEM 2 D. Retrieved July 5, 2019, from https://www.stem2d.org/spark/#whystem2d