Girls Need More Encouragement

One of the reasons women are a minority in tech-related fields is that they are rarely encouraged to pursue a career in STEM at a young age. Providing role models for young girls and encouraging them to explore their options in a science-, math-, or technology-related field is key to closing the gender gap and getting more women involved in these careers.

Multiple journalists agree that the answer to closing the gender gap depends on the kind of education young girls are getting. Alicia Chang, a writer for huffingtonpost.com, mentions in “Bridging the Gender Gap: Encouraging Girls in STEM Starts at Home” how “the majority of studies show no differences in STEM ability, a large divide in perceived competence starts [at an early age]” [1]. She argues that growing up, women do not feel as confident to go into STEM-related fields because they are not as encouraged by parents and teachers. Forbes writer Heather Huhman also wrote an article asking “where is the female equivalent of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg?” She also mentions how the lack of female role models in computer science inhibits the closing of the gender gap in this field[2]. She argues that girls will be less likely to follow in the steps of someone they can’t relate as a role model. Stereotypes and pop culture also play important roles. Media seldom portray women in computer science and rely on portraying programmers as geeky men.[3] The environment in which girls are growing up is not helping them believe they have the potential to become computer scientists or engineers. In a The Baltimore Sun article, Danae King, agrees that women need to be more encouraged by those around them to become interested in math and science and adds that “many girls’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math wanes as they get older because of socialization and lack of exposure and access” [4]. In her article, King also praises Towson University’s tech camp that include female instructors to serve as role models for young women interested in the field[5]. These kinds of camps are important to closing the gender gap since they present STEM fields as something attainable and fun for girls.

Confidence and belief in one’s capabilities is important for personal growth and development. If women are not encouraged more often by their parents, teachers, and friends that they  have the potential to become engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, the gender gap will still be present in the future. Tech companies are doing a good job at trying to reach out and get girls interested at an early age, but there is still a lot to be done.

[1] Chang, A. “Bridging the Gender Gap: Encouraging Girls in STEM Starts at Home.” Huffington Post. Dec 27 2013. Web. Sep 16 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alicia-chang/bridging-the-gender-gap-encouraging-girls-in-stem_b_4508787.html

[2] Huhman, H. “STEM Fields And The Gender Gap: Where Are The Women?” Forbes. Jun 4 2012. Web. Sep 16 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/06/20/stem-fields-and-the-gender-gap-where-are-the-women/

[3] Huhman, H. “STEM Fields And The Gender Gap: Where Are The Women?” Forbes. Jun 4 2012. Web. Sep 16 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/06/20/stem-fields-and-the-gender-gap-where-are-the-women/

 

[4] King, D. “Tech Camps, Other Programs, Hope to Keep Girls Interested in STEM Fields.” The Baltimore Sun. Jul 25 2014.Web.Sep162014.http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-women-in-stem-20140725,0,280615.story

[5] King, D. “Tech Camps, Other Programs, Hope to Keep Girls Interested in STEM Fields.” The Baltimore Sun. Jul 25 2014.Web.Sep162014.http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-women-in-stem-20140725,0,280615.story

 

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