On Oct. 7, 2020, scientists Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work in developing a revolutionary gene-editing tool. This marked the first time in history two women jointly won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Milestones such as these should be recognized not only for what they bring to science and the world, but the positive message they provide to young girls —women do have a place and an impact in science, technology, engineering, and math.
"I wish that this will provide a positive message specifically for young girls who would like to follow the path of science... and to show them that women in science can also have an impact with the research they are performing." - Professor and Nobel Prize Winner, Emmanuelle Charpentier
Sadly, many girls don’t picture themselves in these fields. Several studies show that when children are asked to draw a scientist or mathematician, boys typically draw male figures, while girls are twice as likely to draw a man as opposed to a woman. This self-perception among girls may lead them to avoid a path in STEM-related studies.
How can we challenge STEM gender stereotypes and help young girls (re)shape their science and math identities?
Inspire girls to study STEM and empower them to be the next prize-winning scientists or mathematicians with the following STEM teaching strategies.
Engage Girls in STEM at an Early Age
Start STEM instruction at a young age to correct negative perceptions early on. Provide girls with engaging STEM experiences at an early age to spark their interests and build their confidence. If young girls feel confident and capable in STEM, they will have the drive to develop their skills further in the future.
Provide Practical Real-World Experiences
Real-world, hands-on STEM experiences allow girls to imagine themselves in these fields. Engage girls in science simulations and experiments that involve engineering, chemistry, coding, and more to give them a first-hand feel of STEM careers. Incorporate STEM projects that tackle real-life problems to help girls see the genuine impact of their research and work.
Introduce Notable Female Figures in STEM
It’s important to celebrate and study women in STEM. Take the time during science and math instruction to showcase female scientists and mathematicians and their accomplishments. When girls are exposed to notable female figures and see themselves represented, they will feel more encouraged to pursue STEM.
Connect Girls to Role Models in the Community
Invite female STEM professionals from the community into the classroom. Listening to and speaking with “regular” women in STEM will make being a scientist, an engineer, or a programmer more relatable. Create greater connections by establishing a STEM mentoring program with women in the community.
Encourage and empower young girls to see themselves as scientists and mathematicians with additional STEM resources from ExploreLearning.
STEM Teaching Resources
Get a headstart on STEM with Science4Us, a K-2 science solution.
Explore the collection of online STEM simulations and virtual labs on Gizmos.