Daring Girls to Dream and Discover Science
Science is about discoveries. It is the thrill of every scientist to uncover a new formula or truth that can change the world. Holding onto such a dream makes all of the hard work and years of study worthwhile.
Such a dream knows no gender—anyone can be inspired to pursue science and engineering as a way not only to make a living, but to live a life that in some small way matters to humanity and our earth.
But what happens if it is a dream denied? Or what happens when this dream is never explored?
I will explore in these blogs how important it is to teach our children, especially our girls, to dare to dream big and to pursue science as a means of making a difference in themselves and the world.
Each year millions of young women should be studying fields known as STEAM—which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. In the classroom, STEAM integrates STEM subjects with the art of design. These fields are vital to our nation’s future. But far too many young women opt out of pursuing them.
This can happen when a girl finds her computer science class dominated by boys who have years of 3-D game experience on her. This can happen when someone taunts her about being a geek. This can even happen when someone doesn’t take a girl’s interest in these subjects seriously, or contends that these are not fit subjects for girls.
The societal forces that dissuade girls from pursuing their dreams of studying and working in science and technology begin subliminally, before kindergarten. These forces can become cruel in middle school, and can erode girls’ confidence further as they mature. By the time they turn 18, young women will find that they are outnumbered by men four-to-one if they choose to major in computer science or engineering. This ratio stubbornly resists change. If young women look at the makeup of the workplaces they might enter, they see that the ratios are often worse. They cannot help noticing that the leadership positions are largely held by men, and wonder, where are the women?
I want to change this. I suspect that you do too.
As a mechanical engineer, biomedical engineer, and entrepreneur, I’ve approached this problem as a scientist intent on discovery. Why do some women forge ahead in computing and engineering while others give up? What interventions might change this scenario for young women? What works?
I will explore these questions, and provide answers, in upcoming posts, which are drawn from my forthcoming book.
I’d love to hear from you. Are there any girls in your life who show interest in the sciences and need your encouragement and support? What are you doing for them? Thank you for sharing!