Girls and STEM: Why So Much Chatter?
The following article is sponsored by IM Flash.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a big buzzword in education now, especially with girls. Why?
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, girls and boys have similar abilities in math and science, but males are three times more likely to be interested in STEM majors and careers.1 Women only earn 18% of engineering degrees compared to 82% of men.
We asked females working at the tech company IM Flash what advice they would give to girls who are trying to figure out what field to study. IM Flash, based in Lehi, Utah, makes memory and recruits engineers and technicians from all over the world to help make their chips.
Consider how a technical degree can be creative. “I have three girls who each have different interests – medicine, art, etc.,” says Martina Jensen, who works for IM Flash as a process technician. “I tell them to get their engineering degree because no matter what field they go into, engineering is always relevant. Some medical schools accept you right away if you have an engineering degree and you can do very artsy things with engineering – only rather than being a ‘starving artist’ you will be making money and making a difference in the world.”
Silence the doubters. “Technical careers don’t have a gender….they are there for whomever works hard to earn them,” states Brittney Reyman, a manufacturing engineer for IM Flash. “Many times growing up I was told to have a backup plan for my career because it was difficult and/or that girls just didn’t become engineers.”
Get hands-on. If you’re thinking about going into a technical field, hands-on experience is key, say the women at IM Flash. “Start getting internship experience as soon as possible in the fields you are interested in,” advises Tracie Petersen, a quality engineer with IM Flash. “Not only do you gain valuable experience but it helps you determine jobs that interest you to help focus your studies. It’s also a very effective way to start growing your network.”
Find a role model. Get on Twitter or Instagram and follow accounts like @girlswhocode, @womenatintel, or @amypoehlersmartgirls, which are dedicated to showing examples of women making a difference in the world. For an experience closer to home, find someone working in a field you’re interested in and shadow them for a day. Job shadowing is a quick way to see if the job excites you, and you can also learn about what kind of schooling it takes to get there.
Where to start?
While girls are still in school, there are lots of great opportunities to explore technical careers in a fun way.
Expanding Your Horizons is designed for younger girls – 6th through 10th grades – to help get them see the possibilities within STEM. Two conferences are being held in the coming weeks: March 5 at Salt Lake Community College and March 26 at Utah Valley University.
SheTech Explorer Day, held on March 11 at Utah Valley University, is a conference for high school girls (9th-12th grades). There are hands-on workshops like “Computer like a hacker,” “Nothing fits better than a perfect pair of genes,” “The chemistry of diamonds,” and many more. More information at www.shetechexplorer.com.