Tech revolutions and innovations flourish daily, leading to more jobs needed to support it all. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, “in the next five years, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) jobs are projected to grow twice as quickly as jobs in other fields. While all jobs are expected to grow by 10.4 percent, STEM jobs are expected to increase by 21.4 percent. Similarly, 80 percent of jobs in the next decade will require technical skills.” This may sound great to many people who are recent STEM graduates. However, the truth is, there are not nearly enough people graduating with STEM degrees to fulfill this void.
To fill this gap, many people are considering trying to increase kids' interest in STEM. Nevertheless, increasing the role of women in STEM will also be a step toward fulfilling these jobs. On average, a woman working in a STEM career will earn 33 percent more than a woman working in a non-related STEM field.
Alexandra Jordan, 9, of Sunnyvale, Calif., seen here at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, is programming and developing tech innovations. (Source: TechCrunch)
Events such as the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon help promote STEM interest. At the Hackathon, people of all ages can explore different booths featuring their own unique hacks. The events are also filled with lots of professional programmers and beginners.
Alexandra Jordan, a fourth-grader from Sunnyvale, Calif. has visited several hackathons and talks about what motivates and inspires her:
“My motivation is to be a great person, to help the world, to make discoveries, and to prove that girls and women can do anything. My inspiration is my Dad and my family and friends, but also women programmers. I have been inspired by the women in tech that I met at TechCrunch Disrupt and at ooVoo and others.”
Jordan currently has a few projects in progress, one being Super Fun Kid Time, a play date finder for kids, which she has presented to people at several hackathons. Since presenting, she has received lots of support and help with improving her project. The company ooVoo has even spent time helping her add video chat to the project.
Emily, a 14-year-old aspiring geneticist, told the Huffington Post recently:
“Being able to prove myself in the world as being an intelligent and capable woman is one of the many things that inspires me to work in the biology fields. The other thing that inspires me to be an intelligent and powerful woman is being able to follow in the footsteps of my mother, an electrical engineer for General Electric Aviation, and my sister, an electrical engineer student at Northeastern University.”
Overall, the role of women in STEM is gradually increasing. However, to accelerate this growth, much more encouragement and support will be needed in the future. Other mentorship programs such as NASA's G.I.R.L.S. (Giving Initiative and Relevance to Learning Sciences) connects professional women from science and engineering with girls from all around the US.
Nice story, Cabe. In an country with stubbornly high unemployment, with too many jobs that don't offer sufficient wages to support workers (fast food jobs pay less than $9.00 per hour), I would think there would be a rush to STEM jobs.
Cabe, it is good to see people getting involved in STEM at earlier levels of school. Our schooll district has a very active program. That makes sense, since a lot of people around here have STEM jobs and backgrounds.
On the other hand, the comments about the number of people needed in STEM jobs is not really clear. If you ask industry they will say stupid things. For example, Steve Jobs famously said he needs 30,000 engineers over the next years. I worked in the space program, which is not known for its efficiency. We designed and built multiple spacecraft at a time with a group of 2,500 people. We had subcontractors, but some of our people were working on subcontracts as well. Each of these systems were orders of magnitude more complex than anything Apple has ever done. It is hard to get a real number out of industry these days.
While there will certianly be good STEM jobs, I have seen research recently showing that these are plenty of people in the US to fill them. We should keep improving our educational system in this area, but the fear of massive shortages should not be the driver.
Thats a great article Cabe, It really feels nice to see young kids participating so passionately in the tech world. They way these kids are contributing in these fields in such a young age is truly worth the appreciation.
Thanks for this article, Cabe. It's great to see more of a focus on women in these type of jobs, and efforts being made to put them there. It would be good to see both the pay and the number of women in these jobs equal to men some day. Efforts like this will certainly help!
Elizabeth, I agree with you, especially as a father of two daughters. I see enormous opportunities in STEM careers for both men and women. I'm still surprised there isn't a huge rush toward STEM careers.
I also have two daughters - one working in digital media, the other studying architeecture, but I have noticed over the last few years that boys are being ignored by the school system. I see it plainly with how my son and his friends. The pendulumm has swung the other way and with all of the focus on girls, boys are left behind to fend for themselves. How about STEM for ALL STUDENTS? It seems like it is assumed that boys in general are inherently interested in technology so the schools don't have to worry about them. I predict that we are losing a lot of boys...
It's been interesting watching the education pendulum swing over the past 60 years. My high school Freshmen all took General Science and Algebra, Sophomores took Biology and Plain Geometry, Juniors all took Chemistry and Solid Geometry, and Seniors took Physics and Calculus. That all changed for some reason, but now they're trying to bring it back in a limited way with specialized STEM schools or programs.
I'm fortunate to be involved with judging our regional Science, Rube Goldberg, and Future Cities competitions. No public schools get involved in our Future Cities competition. The private schools all participate, usually have STEM programs, and are overwhelming represented by young females. It appears that women are destined to lead our technological future.
Scientific and engineering history is evident everywhere you look in our modern world, and there are a plethora of institutions, museums, facilities and other places that celebrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) ideas and innovations.
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As part of its commitment to STEAM education, Autodesk has expanded its offering to provide design, engineering, and entertainment software free to students, teachers, and academic institutions across the world
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.