I remember when I was younger – maybe around 10 or 11 – Mattel introduced a speaking “Teen Talk” Barbie doll that said “Math class tough! Party dresses are fun!” There was, as you can imagine (or remember) a huge public backlash and the doll was pulled from the retail market. Critics claimed doll was sexist, misogynistic, and gave young girls the wrong message about gender stereotypes.
Still, over 20 years later, there’s a huge disparity between the number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers and the number of men with the same jobs. At this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference it was clear that the testosterone ruled in the audience of developers; the absence of women was even a trending topic on Twitter.
For several reasons, some benign and some very controversial, girls don’t engage as much as boys in school-aged STEM classes and clubs. Math and science are subjects that girls have been told for years are “boy” subjects; classes like art or English are notoriously associated with a larger female enrollment.
In order to change the course of the future of STEM, we need to engage our girls in math- and science-related early learning. Because girls aren’t generally encouraged in school to pursue these subjects, we can introduce them at home through fun resources.
Here are some great sites, shows, and apps that will inspire girls to pursue their STEM interests:
SciGirls: This educational television series on PBS follows “real” girls as they explore the scientific world; the companion website also has some really great content
EngineerGirl.org: Intended for the 10-and-older crowd, this site presents information on STEM careers in a way that kids (and parents) can easily understand and enjoy
Robots for iPad: Download this app (developed by the Institue of Electrical &Electronic Engineers) if you have a tween-aged girl who’s interested in the mechanics of robots
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: Pick up this illustrated storybook from Amazon or your local library; it tells the story of America’s first female doctor
Design Squad Nation: Another PBS offering, this free interactive site caters to school-aged kiddos who learn more about science and engineering through fun activities and games
Share your favorite STEM resource in the comments below!