We’ve come a long way in recent years when it comes to female representation. However, despite these improvements, women continue to be underrepresented in the field of science, both in research and in private organisations. There are a number of factors which contribute to the issue, including societal expectations of women and pre-existing prejudices creating glass ceilings, while male presence in the field is encouraged.
One of the main factors influencing the number of women studying science is a severe lack of female role models in the sector. Children grow up looking to others like them for guidance, and if they don’t see someone they can compare themselves to, they tend to think that area is not one they could break into. Due to this, we need to encourage girls to take an interest in science at a young age, to increase the number of women in the sector and provide more role models for young girls to aspire to.
Read on to find out 3 ways to encourage girls in science.
Young children can easily be overwhelmed by a high volume of educational material, such as books, worksheets, and educational videos, particularly if this is on top of their school education. It can become tedious and boring, and possibly even have the opposite effect of what you were aiming for and discourage their interest in science.
However, day trips and outings are ideal for introducing the subject to a young girl, without bombarding her with information. Visiting a museum or a science exhibition will allow her to explore different aspects of science, and ask questions to further her knowledge and understanding.
While toys are designed for a child to play with, there’s no reason you can’t use them to help her learn! LEGO education can be a great first step towards a child learning STEM subjects and is often used in UK classrooms to help young students learn about robotics and coding.
Educational video games and board games are another great way to incorporate science into her daily life. Making a game out of it will ensure the learning side is fun and exciting for her, rather than feeling like a chore.
Set an example
Children absorb the environment they’re surrounded by, and a huge part of that is how they see you act and what they hear you say. Ensure you’re a positive role model for young girls around you, by demonstrating that women can be good at STEM subjects as well as men.
It’s particularly important to watch the language you use around young girls and avoid negative messages like “Chemistry is boring” or “I hated science when I was at school”. If she grows up with those negative beliefs, she’s less likely to be interested in science and may even develop a strong dislike for the subject.