There have been recent efforts over the years to encourage more people to pursue careers in science other than your stereotypical representation of someone a lot like the first image below. While (in my opinion) the story of society is doing a much better job of painting a holistic picture of what a scientist might or possibly look like (second image below), there is still a disparity: There are fewer women and other minority groups in STEM-oriented fields and careers because of the barriers that remain in place within our system.
When you google search “scientist”
Raising STEM Awareness in the Classroom
How to create a classroom culture that encourages STEM for ALL:
- Designing STEM activities for your students! If we want the forming minds in our classroom to believe they all can engage in this field if they choose to one day, then students should have first hand experience with actual labs and activities that are STEM in nature and engaging with these processes
- Starting the STEM early on. Don’t wait until the last few weeks of a semester to do STEM activities, teachers should methodically plan it around lessons throughout the entirety of the school year
- Show your students that STEM has carry-over to real-world applicability. One way to do this might be having a guest speaker come in who is a minority in the STEM field
- Another way we can help our students feel encouraged to pursue opportunities and careers in STEM is to write great letters of recommendations in a way that that limits biases. See this really helpful pamphlet below:
- Another way to raise STEM awareness in this classroom is to link STEM activities with the student’s family. By increasing the engagement with the school and family network VIA STEM, we can really heighten the positive impact between STEM opportunities and our student’s attitude and beliefs towards it. STEAM activities (addition of arts) would be a wonderful way to connect families to these opportunities
- Finally, we can use community resources to come up with innovative STEM opportunities for our students. These resources might be technological resources, natural resources, economical resources, etc.
Status of women and minorities in STEM
As you can see from the infographic on the right, there is a gender gap in the STEM field across various aspects: education, employment, and types of STEM occupations (although not mentioned here).
I think one of the biggest takeaways here is the 11% of teen girls showed a interest in STEM job fields. This is what we have to focus on as future educators…changing this narrative.