Career Pathways

Girls Deserve More than a Hashtag if We Want Them in STEM Fields

September 6, 2019

I’m still amazed that it’s been 50 years since man landed on the moon. I love watching old footage of Apollo 11’s mission, and reading about the innovations that have come as a result of that mission.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the role women played, not only this mission, but in a lot of NASA’s successes. And yet, I never saw women in any of the official NASA photos, nor were they featured in documentaries.

Today, there is a growing movement to increase the amount of girls interested in STEM. Most of the movements center around how to get girls to feel more connected to science, math, engineering, etc. If you look on Twitter, there are hashtags created to highlight empowering girls in STEM. In those hashtags, conversations seem to revolve around things like:

They just need more exposure to women role models.

Or …

They need more LEGO and Barbie figurines that promote STEM as cool.

Or …

We need to make sure girls develop the skills needed to succeed in that environment.

What’s not mentioned?

The role of men in keeping women out of these fields. If we truly believe women have a seat at the table, how can we encourage men to offer the seat instead of requiring women to break down a hundred extra barriers to try to get access?

The problem with the hashtag movement is that it comes from a deficit viewpoint… if only girls just did this, or had this, then they’d be better. What it fails to tackle is the systemic oppression that downplays women in these fields.

Things like:

So how do we inspire boys to share the STEM playground with the girls? What are you doing in your classroom, your school, to create an empowering STEM environment for both girls and boys so that they can support and elevate each other one day as STEM professionals?

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