The following blog was originally written by a member of FIRST Ladies for New Moon Girls, a magazine and online community for tween and teen girls. This is a great example of ways to start a conversation with younger girls about STEM and how to alleviate concerns regarding the STEM field.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is one of the fastest-growing and most sustainable workforces out there. The need for capable and qualified employees is much larger than the people with the skill sets to fill the jobs, so it is easy to maintain a successful career in STEM. Women make up 47% of the workforce, and yet they are woefully underrepresented in these rapidly advancing fields. In fields such as mechanical and electrical engineering, less than 10% are women. The statistics in other science and math fields are not much better. While these numbers can be frightening and discouraging to young girls who aspire to be engineers or astronauts, I encourage you to be inspired instead of intimidated. The gender gap can be scary, but the world of STEM needs more girls and women to rise. You have the power to be a leader, so don’t let the difference hold you back.
There are many groups that encourage female involvement in STEM that you can join if you want to try it out, but need some support. From the time I was 9 years old to my senior year in high school, I was very involved in a program called FIRST Robotics. FIRST is an acronym, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” My participation in this amazing program has helped me find other girls interested in engineering and allowed me to meet several outstanding female mentors. The ability to surround myself with other girls and women who had similar goals was vital to my success in STEM. Without this support, I would not want to study engineering in college. If you want to find a FIRSTRobotics team near you or just learn more about the program, go to firstinspires.org.
As a young girl heavily involved in STEM, I have faced a lot of obstacles. However, I never had to face these problems alone. My friends and mentors (like my mom) encouraged me to keep going, and if you are in a similar position I encourage you to do the same. Help is everywhere, all you have to do is ask for it. There are so many spectacular things to do in STEM, and if you’re passionate about something you should never give it up. Look past the negativity and keep reaching for the stars. STEM jobs need more women, and it’s time to close the gap.
**REMEMBER** to check out the information on the upcoming FIRST Ladies conference to see if you can attend: http://goo.gl/forms/p8yNTIEExZG4tz9p1. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the blog schedule.
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