In earlier articles, we laid the foundation of the importance and impact of STEM education and STEM-related toys choosing and gifting for our kids at 3 influential stages, the Toddler (Awareness), the Pre-schooler (Interest), and the Middle Childhood (Desire). Through our analysis, it’s convincing to say that STEM (toy) plays a considerable and “magical” role to foster a passion for learning and exploring the answers to their questions, which is the greatest toy (gift) for our kids. As mentioned earlier, the purpose of technology is to bring us a better experience in all aspects of life, and most importantly, to help us to reach the mutual 17 United Nations SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
With this purpose in mind, today, we are going to talk about the diversity in STEM education and career, and what we should do to make STEM learning more diverse and dynamic.
1.Women in STEM
Women in STEM is a hot topic around us today. Before talking about it, let’s review the mutual 17 United Nations SDGs.
It’s the fact that the mutual 17 United Nations SDGs is not a subject that we can reach overnight. Everyone in this world has a role to play to improve our surroundings with their professional qualifications and efforts.
For this reason, it has driven us to strive to make an impact on Goal 4 – Quality Education. Furthermore, we have realized that Gender Equality is one of the topics that we should also pay more attention to.
The gender gaps in the STEM workforce is a good example to explain this:
Women account for only 28% of the workforce in STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), while men dominate the STEM workforce perpetuated by historical reasons and gender stereotypes.
Women are left behind for centuries. But the number of degrees female hold is the direct cause of this gap. For sure, there are some actions we can take to close this gap even though it’s tough to eliminate discrimination:
- · Empower high school girls to be a part of the initiative to increase female participation in STEM.
- · Encourage more college girls to earn a degree in STEM.
- · Empower more female graduates to pursue careers in STEM.
- · Provide equal access to training and opportunity to women in STEM-related jobs.
It’s not the latest news that Microsoft and Google encourage women to apply for STEM-related positions and support young female students to pursue careers in STEM. And it’s the fact that nearly over 50% of the high school graduates will lose their interest in STEM curricula, even though they show high interest at the beginning, as mentioned in our previous articles. Now, it has become essential to gain their interest from a young age, and that’s the critical topic we would like to raise again – why we should spark up their interest, cultivate their creativity, ignite their enthusiasm, and shape their values at an early age. And that’s the most convincing way to overcome this barrier as early as we can.
2.Choose STEM Related Toys for Girls
It’s understandable that parents have a preference when choosing a toy or gift for girls. It’s necessary for girls to have a teddy bear or barbie doll. But when it comes to STEM-related learning purpose, parents should remove gender barriers to provide them with the same toys/gifts and learning environment as for the boys. The STEM toys are the best companions to the boys and girls, which will grow with them in parallel.
At Toddler’s Stage, the STEM toys will arouse the girls’ curiosity, spark up their interest by feeling the force and the “magic” around the toys – that’s the Awareness Phase. It’s also the fundamental stage to develop cognitive abilities and skills so that our girls can acquire the essential STEM skills for future STEM education. Some entry-level magnetic building tiles made from environmental-friendly materials to secure toy safety would be highly recommended.
At Pre-schooler’s Stage, also defined as the Interest Phase, it plays a considerable role to bridge up the Awareness to the Desire Phase. It’s the golden age to ignite their interest in STEM areas and leverage learning experience from Toddler through School Life. Our girls started to wonder why and make a lot of “why conversations” with people around them. Actually, that’s good news because they are hoping to have new upgraded STEM toys driven by their curiosity, wonder, creativity, passion, and enthusiasm. In that case, upgraded and scalable STEM magnetic construction tiles couldn’t be wrong!
As introduced, STEM is an integration subject involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Therefore, at Middle Childhood (the Desire) Stage, in addition to “growing their companion” – the toy, STEM construction building blocks along with magnetic construction tiles are going to create a more diverse, immersive, and dynamic STEM- and project-based learning environment for our girls.
The critical STEM skills cultivation and development at each of the 3 influential stages require pretty much the same work and practice from girls as boys. Usually, girls are more sensitive to parents’ behaviors and emotions, so it’s wise for parents to encourage and empower them to unleash their potential in this highly demanding area in 5G era.
3. Encourage Girls to Present Their Work in Class
Although many believe that parents are the first and the best teachers to our children, our boys and girls will spend more time with teachers and classmates at school at the Middle Childhood stage.
STEM involvement with their peers will gradually develop and enhance one of the four critical 21st-century skills – communication and collaborative skill.
It creates more opportunities for our girls to present their work, their creation, their points of views, communicate with male and female companions, and voice out their attitude through their work, and all these reflect how they see the world.
It gives our girls more confidence and drives them to get more involved with STEM and things around that. It “simulates” a STEM environment that our schoolgirls will find the familiarity and similarity at their real working STEM environment in the future.
Sooner or later, it will become more and more common for girls and women to pursue and cultivate their career in STEM-related industries.
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Still, women are facing challenges in STEM fields from education to career development for all kinds of stereotyping factors. It’s high time that our parents, teachers, and everyone around should empower and inspire girls and women to pursue a degree or career in STEM areas.