June 6th, 2016
I have often been told that I don’t look like a mechanical engineer, but I love calculus, taking things apart to find out how they work and thermodynamics. Fortunately, I grew up in a supportive environment where my parents and teachers encouraged these passions.
But not everyone is so lucky.
For many girls who start out strong in math and science, interest wanes along the way. There is clear evidence supporting the fact that girls and young women often receive social cues—regularly reinforced in conscious and subconscious ways by parents, schoolteachers, university professors and even managers on the job—that they can’t compete with male counterparts and therefore shouldn’t pursue their goals in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM).
The result is what’s often referred to as a “leaky pipeline,” in which talented girls eventually steer away from careers in STEM and pursue work in fields where they will receive more positive reinforcement and don’t have to fight as hard to carve out their place in the world.
The Importance of STEM—at Every Age
When women and girls fall off these career tracks, we are all robbed of potential innovators and leaders.