Today more girls are showing interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields and STEM-based activities. But despite this growing curiosity, girls still are not choosing medicine, science, technology and engineering as their number one career path.
Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines has prioritized STEM in an effort to help girls bridge the existing gender gap that within these male-dominant career fields. As a one of its main program initiatives, Girl Scouts provides opportunities for girls to enhance their exposure to and deepen their engagement in STEM.
Girl Scout Research Institute’s report, Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, highlights that while a majority of today’s girls have a clear interest in STEM, they do not prioritize STEM fields when thinking about their future careers.
Research in the report shows that 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM subjects and the general field of study. Further, a high 82 percent of girls see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM.” And yet, few girls consider it their number-one career option: 81 percent of girls interested in STEM are interested in pursuing STEM careers, but only 13 percent say it’s their first choice.
Additionally, girls express that they do not know a lot about STEM careers and the opportunities afforded by these fields, with 60 percent of STEM-interested girls acknowledging that they know more about other careers than they do about STEM careers.
“Girl Scouts has a proud history of supporting girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through our robust programs and mentoring initiatives,” said Lisa Jones, CEO of Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. “This study only reaffirms what we already know - that it is important to support girls at a young age and make learning about STEM fun and engaging.”
As to what girls are drawn to with regard to these subjects, Generation STEM notes that the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM hold the most appeal. STEM-interested girls take an active, inquisitive approach to engaging in science, technology, engineering, and math: a high percentage like to solve problems (85%), build things and put things together (67%), do hands-on science projects (83%), and ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions (80%). Girls enjoy the hands-on aspect of exploration and discovery and recognize the benefits of a challenge: 89 percent of all girls agree that “obstacles make me stronger.”
Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines partners with many STEM-based companies and organizations across its 41-council territory including Cisco Systems, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Motorola, Red Hat, Time Warner Cable and RTI International. Girls are offered a vast array of programming throughout the year in hopes that girls of all ages can experience fun, hands-on activities exploring STEM fields and careers.
“Our program partnerships provide us with the support to carry out our commitment to engaging girls in STEM activities and encouraging them to pursue STEM interests both in and outside the classroom,” added Jones.
Girls are also aware that gender barriers persist in today’s society: 57 percent of those studied concur that if they were to pursue a STEM career, they would “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.”
"America has a huge opportunity for economic growth with girls' interest in science, technology, engineering, and math," says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA. "When girls succeed, so does society. We all have a role to play in making girls feel supported and capable when it comes to involvement in STEM fields—and anything else they set their minds to and have traditionally been steered away from.”