The other night my mom was showing my sister and me photos from our childhood: first birthday cake, making a phone call on a Fisher-Price phone, and photos that prove we were unmistakably children of the ‘80s. Going through the photos we came across her first grade school portrait, a smiling, wide-eyed girl, missing her front tooth, and beaming as if she didn’t have a care in the world. She told us that her mother had made the dress she was wearing in the photo. At the time, she was one of four children, and she was the only girl. We flipped it over to read the year “1966” on the back. My sister then commented, “That’s only one year before the first woman finished the Boston Marathon.”
Looking at the photo of my mom as a young girl, with the weight of what my sister had said, I started to think about the impact of a generation. It got me thinking about the opportunities that I have had that the generations before me did not, but more importantly, about the generation of girls that follow me, because there is still a gender gap. Young women need to be exposed to different areas of interest and championed when they want to pursue those interests. Here are a few resources to do just that.
Start at a young age.
A commercial for Goldie Blox went viral recently. This company was started by a female engineer who wanted to introduce engineering to girls, pointing out that women make up only 14% of engineers worldwide. From toys designed for engineering, to STEM projects found on Pinterest, it’s important to allow girls to invent, build, and tinker from a young age.
Give young women opportunity.
Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization with a mission “to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue twenty-first century opportunities.” This is a great way to get girls interested in STEM related fields. Also, Code.org is a great way to expose girls—and boys—to computer science. The website boasts that it has “2,110,086,010 lines of code written by students.”
Empower them and remind them they can.
A Mighty Girl is a website that promotes books, clothing, toys, movies, etc. that encourage girls to be “smart, confident, and courageous.” Its Facebook page highlights heroes who are “inspiring the next generation of history makers.” It features girls and women in history who have made a positive impact in this world, as well as modern-day girls and women who are working to change our today and our future.
These are just a few of the resources advocating for more girls and women in STEM fields, or any field they choose to pursue. The fact that there are websites, companies, and organizations intended solely to champion young women is proof that we still have a ways to go. But we’ve come a long way and continue to move forward.