Research by Microsoft shows that while girls are strong in math and science when they are young, very few girls choose STEM majors in college (about 17%) and even fewer become STEM career professionals (about 12%). The comprehensive Microsoft study said to get more girls to choose STEM they need three things:
An understanding of how diverse STEM careers can be
Role models, professional women who are working in STEM
Career guidance information about how to navigate STEM in high school and then college
Daniel Pennington saw the challenge his own stepdaughter had when test scores revealed a strength in math that she didn’t think she wanted because she didn’t think she wanted to work in a math-related job. The two of them met with women in a variety of STEM careers and her eyes were opened to the possibilities math skills can bring.
Inspired by his stepdaughter’s experience, Daniel Pennington looked into this challenge and found out about the Microsoft research. Using his background in television production, he started to develop a TV show – STEM Story – to capture and share stories about women working in STEM careers. He shared samples with Jill Hubbs at WSRE and a partnership was born! The hope is that the television show will begin to air in fall 2022.
STEM Story Live!
To accompany this endeavor, a team of volunteers decided to create STEM Story Live! The Live event will be a chance to get girls and STEM professionals together. Knowing that it is also important to have an important adult in their lives who can encourage their interests, the event is designed to include a parent (or another key adult).
This – first ever – STEM Story Live! event is set for the afternoon of Sept. 18th at WSRE. We still have seats for 25 female middle or high school students (as of noon, Sept. 6th)
The Eventbrite link is here – please feel free to share it with parents you know who know a female middle or high school student who could benefit from this experience!
While the girls rotate to meet in small groups with a group of STEM professional women talking about their careers, their accompanying adults will hear from their own group of speakers. The communications points will be:
STEM is for everyone, not just boys. Your student can succeed in STEM careers.
Help your student get involved early. For example, find camps or programs that will introduce them to STEM skill development such as learning to code. Go with them to experience museums such as the Naval Aviation Museum, spend an afternoon at the M.E.S.S. Hall, or sign her up for math enrichment opportunities/tutoring. Encourage her to select extra science or math classes, enroll in a STEM career academy, and to participate in competitions such as Science Olympiad, Science Fair, etc.
STEM professionals aren’t all valedictorians. If your student struggles with a class, don’t let her sweat it. Everyone struggles at some point. Remind them, just because a class is hard doesn’t mean they won’t gain useful knowledge and skills.
Encourage your student to explore her curiosity and let it lead her choices, and encourage her to make friends who also like math and science. Remember, she will need you, your encouragement and support.
The world is facing some pretty big problems. A pandemic. Climate change. Hunger. Poverty. Disease. We can only overcome these challenges when everyone is at the table. Not just boys. Not just men. All of us. We all need more young women to go into STEM careers. Don’t let someone discourage your student. If someone says, “Girls can’t be astronauts,” (or any other STEM professional) tell them they are wrong. Our daughters will change the world.
STEM Story Live! Event Lead is Daniel Pennington
In addition to being the creator of STEM Story, he is also a nationally known public speaker and speaking coach. He can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com, (850) 390-1839.
Teachers orparents who may know a female middle or high school student who could benefit from this experience are encouraged to share the Eventbrite link and register their students today!