I had never heard of STEM programs until I began my career in high tech. At that time, much of the discussion was around the lack of women in technology. Sadly, it still is today. Young women are more likely than young men to graduate college and just as likely to earn advanced degrees. Yet we represent a mere 24% of the STEM workforce.*
Why are women so lacking in our engineering and science ranks? How do we get young girls interested in STEM? Part of the answer certainly lies in the Maker Movement. Getting young girls to build things they want is a fantastic way to make esoteric subjects like physics and geometry come to life. Constructing castles is way more fun than constructing proofs.
During this Week of Making, we will hear about the positive work being done by government, corporations, and organizations to help foster a generation of girls (and boys!) who love to make things. What’s most exciting to me about the Maker Movement is that everyone can join. It’s not only about education policy or grants—though those are vital foundational elements. At the heart, it’s about the joy of making stuff.
Where to begin? Here are a few suggestions:
Make a Toy
There are wonderful businesses selling “make it” toys. Kiwi Crate offers different builder kits—everything from arts and crafts to engines. And GoldieBlox is specifically tailored for girls, where they can build dunk tanks and parade floats.
Build an App
Get kids involved early. There are organizations around the country dedicated to helping our youngest learn to code. Some offer online training, like Youth Digital and Tynker, while others, like Girlstart and CodaKid, offer summer camps. Young kids can learn computer programming, modding, and game design, as early as age seven.
Mentor a Girl
Join in the Maker Movement and help a young girl find her joy. Maybe in the process, she’ll see the world of possibilities—and opportunities—a career in STEM can provide.
* The Department of Commerce’s Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (August 2011)