5 min Read

5 Ways to Get Girls Interested in STEM

It’s no secret that we need more women in STEM-related fields. That’s why it’s important to foster a love of science and tech in young girls from an early age. Read on for five ways that you can help the girls in your life to explore all areas of STEM, with Microsoft’s help. 

The term STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, was coined in 2001 by administrators at the US National Science Foundation. (They’d previously used SMET as the acronym to talk about these disciplines, but that’s not nearly as catchy, is it?) In the years since, we’ve heard the term used in relation to education, toys and games, career development and more, and nearly every child has had at least some organic exposure to STEM through school, extracurricular activities and play. 

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So then the question is, why do we still see a considerable disparity in terms of women pursuing STEM careers? According to Statistics Canada, 34 percent of Canadians with STEM degrees are women, but they only make up 23 percent of the workforce in science and technology fields. There are many factors, but some of it comes down to confidence. Case in point: A 2021 survey by human resources consulting firm Randstad asked female-identifying subjects how good they would be at a STEM-related job compared to men. In computer science, only 23.8 percent of respondents said they would be as effective in the position; in engineering, it was even worse at only 21 percent.

The good news is, confidence is something we can address with girls from a young age. When we encourage girls to try something new, to ask questions, to make mistakes and to apply what they’ve learned, we build their self-assurance and motivate them to keep trying. Companies like Microsoft have their eye on the future of STEM, and on the next generation of women who could take the STEM world by storm. Read on for five ways you can get the girls in your life interested in STEM, so they can be part of the exciting era ahead. 

  1. Give her role models to look up to. 

There are many women doing incredible things in STEM-related fields. Give girls the opportunity to learn about female software engineers, surgeons, medical researchers, mathematicians, chemists…you name it. Look for media that can make a difference, too—there are so many films and documentaries that show women doing amazing things in all aspects of technology. Or ask your child’s teacher if you can arrange for a guest speaker or two. All kids can benefit from meeting successful professionals in STEM industries. 

  1. Show her how STEM makes an impact. 

It can be difficult for a child to connect the basic code they’re learning or the science experiment they’re doing with the important work of STEM careers. Spend some time showing her how the skills she’s learning can change the world. Better yet, sit down to do the research together. Look at the skillset she’s developing and explore related career paths. You’ll no doubt land on major milestones in history that can be traced back to the fundamentals she’s learning today. 

  1. Bring STEM into your home early and often. 

While kids are most likely getting a taste of STEM in the classroom, don’t just leave it up to your child’s school. Spend some time with your children doing STEM-based activities or playing games with a STEM foundation at home. Microsoft offers many avenues for engaging kids in STEM: Minecraft Education is a game-based platform that will make kids forget they’re even learning, and free online learn-to-code tool, Microsoft MakeCode will have them making games and computer programming in no time. 

Are you an educator? Microsoft also has STEM tools you can use in the classroom. Check out Microsoft’s website to learn more. 

  1. Be engaged and encouraging. 

You are no doubt your child’s number one cheerleader in all things. Treat STEM-based skill development the same way you would treat being on the sidelines at soccer games or in the audience at dance recitals. Show her how proud you are that she’s trying something new. Listen when she explains what she’s working on, and let her show you what she has learned. Positive reinforcement and role modeling will go a long way to fostering a love of science and technology. 

  1. Make it fun. 

Kids will get on board with just about anything if it’s entertaining. (Don’t believe us? Try making Saturday morning chores into a contest.) Take a road trip to a science museum, or go on a nature hike and take a portable microscope. Write a script and film a movie together, then spend time figuring out editing software to bring it to life. You never know where inspiration might strike, where you might make a major difference to the person your child becomes. 

With companies like Microsoft thinking ahead, the future looks bright for women and STEM. But we all have to do our part. It starts at home, and with some easy forethought and effort, we can all make a difference to the women we’re raising. No field or industry should ever feel off limits.

- 5 ways to get girls interested in stem

Sponsored by: Microsoft