Closing the Gap between Girls and STEM Careers
By Johanna Perez
Even in 2019, women are still underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce, with the greatest disparity in engineering and computer science. Statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project show that while half of the U.S. workforce are women, only 28% work in science and engineering. In the U.K. , that statistic is even less, with only 15.8% of women undergraduates in STEM fields. In order to close the gap between girls and STEM careers, sparking their interest early on is essential. In grades K – 12, girls are shown to perform equally or above boys in math and science courses. However, while both females and males are taking courses on the subject, females are less likely to participate in computer science and engineering. What can be done to increase young girls’ confidence in these areas? Engagement with STEM must occur inside and outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, mentoring or tutoring can help young girls improve their technical and communication skills. TryEngineering from IEEE offers two programs to promote interest in STEM in young girls. TryEngineering Together, a partnership with Cricket Media, is an eMentoring program targeted towards girls and minorities in grades 3 to 5. Through 1:1 online mentoring, students are able to gain confidence in speaking about STEM. The TryEngineering Summer Institute is for young girls and boys ages 13 – 17 to receive hands-on experience in STEM. The two-week event is based on universities, giving students a behind-the-scenes look at the life of an engineer. It also teaches pre-university students the benefits of engineering and the impact it makes on the world that surrounds them. Even after young female professionals enter the field, offering resources to advance their careers is necessary. The IEEE | Rutgers Online Mini-MBA for Engineers was developed to help corporate employees bridge the gap between business and engineering as engineers prepare for growth into management roles. It is the only online Mini-MBA program specifically designed for engineers and technical professionals that provides the tools and guidance to help women become leaders. Closing the gap between girls and STEM careers requires supporting them throughout their journey. From their first spark of interest to their development into leaders, resources are readily available to help females take the next step.