In 2018, we conducted a study in collaboration with Dr. Shalini Kesar called Closing the STEM Gap. Our findings revealed that 31 percent of girls believe that jobs requiring coding and programming are “not for them.” In high school, that number jumps up to 40 percent. And by the time they’re in college, 58 percent of girls count themselves out of these jobs.
We also discovered that girls who know a woman in a STEM profession are substantially more likely to feel empowered when they engage in STEM activities (61 percent) than those who don’t know a woman in a STEM profession (44 percent). Unfortunately, most girls don’t have any female role models in STEM to look up to. So it’s no surprise that, when asked to describe a typical scientist, engineer, mathematician, or computer programmer, 30 percent of girls say that they envision a man in these roles. As do almost 40 percent of adult women—and 43 percent of women in STEM and tech fields.
You may be asking: How do we reverse these trends? One of the most important first steps is introducing girls and young women to positive female role models in STEM fields. But it doesn’t end there. An even bigger impact is possible when those women offer encouragement.
Enter: Microsoft EDU’s WomEncouragement Series.
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’ve created a series of downloadable posters featuring advice and encouragement from women who are paving the way in STEM and opening doors for future generations of girls to step through and succeed.
These are free to download and print so young women and girls can hang them up in their rooms, in their lockers, on their mirrors, or in their classrooms — anywhere they need a dose of positive inspiration!
But we couldn’t pull off this project without our education community! We’d love to hear from you, too. Send us your own words of encouragement and we might turn them into a poster or share them on our social channels!
Technology jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, but only 24 percent of computer scientists are women. As educators, when we encourage girls to pursue STEM, we double the potential to change the world for the better and help ensure ALL young people are future ready.
Are YOU ready to help make a difference?
Other resources you can use to help close the gap or inspire girls, and all students, to love STEM:
- Get the free STEM action guide. You’ll find easy things education leaders, teachers, and parents can do today to help inspire girls to stay in STEM and #MakeWhatsNext.
- New! Earn a Girls-in-STEM badge when you take this Microsoft Education Community course that shows how you can turn research into action and engage all students to love STEM.
- New! Learn from education experts and teachers to get tips and resources to encourage and engage all students in computer science. Education. Download our free guide to inclusive computer science education now.
- Participate in a free Microsoft Store DigiGirlz workshop near you through April. Each store will host 2-hour workshops that include presentations from guest speakers along with live Q&As, hands-on coding, and other STEM activities. Workshop topics will cover Women in Gaming, Aviation, Space, Coding, and Business!
- Check out this gender equality MEC lesson to complete with your students.
- Sign up for a Skype Collaboration with a woman in STEM and introduce your students to their new favorite role model!
- Check out how these amazing female code creators who use STEM and CS to save endangered species, create art, fashion, and animated Pixar movies!
- Discover female Nobel laureates, women who have broken boundaries to change science in their fields. Find out how to connect students with female pioneers in the Women Who Changed Science experience
- Join the #MSFTEduChat global TweetMeet at 10AM PT on March 19th. The topic is #MakeWhatsNext in STEM, all about empowering young women to pursue careers in STEM to help close the gender gap. This is a great opportunity to engage with educators in over 11 languages globally on this topic!
- Learn how EVERY Individual’s Actions Can Make a BIG Impact with Dr. Jane Goodall in a special Skype in the Classroom broadcast on April 2nd & 9th.
- Explore the Girls & CS resource pages for even more ideas on how to introduce your female students to STEM and encourage them to stay with it.
- From Microsoft on the Issues: How girls from diverse backgrounds have the lens computer science needs.
Closing the STEM gap matters for everyone. More diversity in thought, background, and experience creates more innovation. Innovation is what will help us solve today’s most pressing problems. Together, we can help keep girls inspired and encouraged to pursue a career in STEM.