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.
My daughter, very intelligent and scientifically knowledgeable, stayed away from STEM in college to make sure that she remained an all A student, so she could keep her scholarships, fellowship and graduate "magna cum laude". She also was convinced that engineers pollute the earth. Instead of becoming a scientist or engineer that she had the talent for, she got a doctorate in Sociology at U of M in Ann Arbor and is teaching Sociology as an assistant professor. Until we start saying the truth about STEM jobs, most girls will stay away from them. They are likely to be idealist and trusting souls when graduating high school, where teachers often lead them astray. I have personally designed machinery that save energy, reduce pollution, help to prevent accidents and sickness. I designed the system to clean up a superfund site, and designed a lube oil and grease manufacturing and packaging plant that was the best and most efficient at the time it was built for 10% of the cost the American engineering firm bid for the job. My daughter ignored the contributions that I, my brother and my father have made to the advancement of our culture and civilization as engineers and followed the dictates of a misled high school teacher. I am sure that she is not alone in this there are literally millions of girls that suffer the same fate.
(sorry about all of the typos in my previous post. Yikes! more coffee is needed)
You can't speak for all of New Mexico, just like I can't speak for all of New Jersey, but it is clear that there are a lot of programs out there that are geared toward girls exclusively. Again, I have two daughters so I supported this for many years, but I really do believe that "we" are assuming boys are naturally interested in STEM subjects and that is not necessarily true. My point is that STEM is important for ALL kids, regardless of thier final career choice, and we need to be cognizant of that.
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.
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...
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.
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!
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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.