At one of the PBL 101 Workshops I helped to facilitate a couple of months ago, a teacher asked me about how to get his female high school students invested in STEM coursework and steer them more towards STEM careers. The elementary level students I work with are much easier to engage so I was very interested to see what resources are available. Based on my research, here are the suggestions I made…
Share examples of successful women in STEM careers.
Highlight different engineering professionals using websites like this: http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/profiles.aspx?ind=BlockKarin
You could just spend 5 minutes or so, once a week, talking about an engineer and the work they do. This would be a great way to share some successful women in the field. I think that they would see the careers as more “sexy” if you could find women who work for companies they view as cool and/or are attractive – shallow as that may sound.
There are a few examples of women working for the CDC here: http://www.cdc.gov/women/stem/ I think one of the turn-offs for girls is that they thing of engineering jobs as nerdy. Showing examples that counter that stereotype may help.
Invite some engineers to come in and talk to your students.
This recorded webinar from the National Girls Collaborative Project shares ways to connect students with role models in your community: http://www.ngcproject.org/event/you-can-make-difference-learn-how-plan-role-model-visits-and-field-trips-inspire-girls-technol
Offer clubs at your school.
Get your female students together and provide opportunities for them to work with mentors and professionals. One great resource is Girls Who Code, focused on computer science.
Connect them with camps.
Get them excited about programs that are available for high school girls interested in STEM careers. Here’s a camp at University of Evansville that includes a $5000 college scholarship: http://www.evansville.edu/options/
Do you teach middle or high school students? In what ways do you engage your female students in STEM?