As a teacher, you have a responsibility to promote diversity and equity in the classroom. One such issue that educators often struggle to tackle is encouraging female students to develop and pursue an interest in STEM. Young girls are often discouraged by society from developing an interest in STEM subjects, which inhibits their potential for a strong learning experience and reduces the STEM workforce of valuable contributions to the field. People in modern society require more people working in STEM fields to support their daily needs. To achieve this, all people must be encouraged to work in STEM- most importantly of all, disadvantaged and underrepresented people that were given few chances to work in STEM: girls.
The following sections will teach you multiple solutions on how you can encourage your female students to become involved with STEM.
Implement STEM Themed Classroom Activities
Classroom activities are a great way to encourage students to try something new. Adding new and different activities to your class will allow students to experiment with different things in a safe learning environment. It also will offer your students new opportunities which they might not be able to experience outside of the classroom
When incorporating STEM activities into the class, remember to prioritize the core classroom activities. While STEM activities are a good opportunity for students to become involved into new fields, they are not applicable to all class settings. Before you decide to add a STEM activity, evaluate whether it can be added without disrupting the class schedule or distracting from the class’ focus.
Incorporate Female Role Models into the Curriculum
Children not only look up to the adult figures around them, but the ones they learn about in the classroom. Sharing the contributions women have made to STEM and teaching them about different individuals can inspire students.
If you are concerned that this might be discriminatory towards male role models, be aware that this does not require you to remove all male figures from your lessons. Simply add a few female role models into your lesson plans or substitute some male role models with female ones. If possible, aim for a 50/50 gender ratio.
Provide Validation and Support for Students
Encouragement from adult figures plays an important role in their learning experience. As a teacher, when you see a student, regardless of gender, developing interest in STEM, be sure to be supportive about it. Encourage them to pursue their interest and direct them towards related activities and resources. Let them know that their interests and hobbies matter.
Be aware not to play favoritism while giving support. Other students may feel rejected if they are ignored or have their interests not encouraged. To combat this, consider offering similar validation and support towards other interests along with STEM.
Creating a positive learning environment to help encourage girls to become involved with STEM is simple and easy. You may implement one or multiple of these solutions into your classroom to inspire students of all genders to pursue an interest in STEM. They do not require you to spend money on class resources and can be easily incorporated into a classroom setting. All you will need is to do some research and increase communication with students. In the end, your students will be much happier and have an enriched learning experience due to the positive environment and representation of lesser known figures.