Women’s Equality Day was first established in 1973 to celebrate the right to vote. Much has been done since then, opening new windows for women and every sector of our society benefits from undeniable contributions, but, there’s still a lot to get done.
For years, girls and young women have been a critical missing part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies and careers. The stubborn gender disparity in STEM fields has sparked important debates. For some the gender disparity is a result of social and infrastructural factors such as the lack of mentors and role models, or even traditional mindsets of computing being “boring” and “only for boys” as a major reason why girls do not consider a degree or career in this field.
Microsoft believes that more diverse teams create greater innovations with more diverse approaches, questions, and ideas. With this in mind, we strive to be a leader in attracting women to careers in high tech. Inside the company, and in partnership with others, Microsoft is involved in a wide range of programs aimed at trying to attract, recruit, retain, and develop women from around the world in the field of computer technology. Through our research, we believe you can also help!
How can teachers and parents encourage girls to break stereotypes and close the STEM gap?
Research shows that when girls are encouraged by both a parent and a teacher, they’re more likely to remain engaged in STEM. With hands-on activities and clear connections between STEM subjects and real-world jobs, girls can learn more.
Here are a few things you can do to inspire and support their interest!
Encourage a growth mindset
- Empower girls to ask questions.
- Show your own growth mindset! Start a Girls Who Code club — you don’t need to be a techie!
- Let girls know they don’t need to have the right answer right away. The important thing is seeking it out and discovering it! Give girls a goal, like applying for a patent for their own personal invention!
Provide hands-on experience
- Engage students with experiments and activities connected to real-world problems and situations.
- Teach an Hour of Code in your classroom or home.
- Discover free learning activities that teach computer science without a computer.
- Try a fun STEM activity or experiment over the weekend or at a slumber party.
- Take your daughters to a STEM-related museum.
Provide role models
- Invite female STEM professionals to visit your class, SKYPE with students and/or introduce your daughters to women you know who work in STEM or computer fields.
- Inspire students and kids with videos and posters featuring female role models.
- Find and share articles about women and students who are pursuing STEM.
- During moments in time celebrated in your school and community (Pi Day, Earth Day, Women’s History Month, etc.), ensure women in STEM and computer science are well represented.
- Find groups and events outside of school where girls have the chance to meet STEM professionals: DigiGirlz Camps, Girls Who Code, Summer Immersion programs
- See if your daughters are interested in movies and books that depict women and girls achieving amazing things with STEM knowledge.