Motivating Girls to Choose STEM
550 educators and advocates from ten nations gathered in Richmond to exchange ideas about a movement that they call “From STEM to STEAM.” One major goal is to share best practices to attract more girls to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. They say more creativity can help overcome the hurdles that have prevented girls from choosing STEM careers.
Keynote speaker Governor McAuliffe said women are greatly underrepresented in STEM professions. They fill nearly half of all jobs but hold only 25 percent of STEM jobs, so it’s essential to change education strategies. He said businesses will not come or stay in Virginia without a trained workforce.
“What every business wants is an employee with a skill set. A degree without a skill set—to get out of college today with a lot of debt and no skill sets does not build that 21st-century economy. And the best skill sets you can have are in the STEAM-related fields.”
Olivia Haas is the Strategic Communications and Research Director for the National Coalition of Girls Schools. She said weaving art into the curriculum transforms STEM into STEAM and is very effective.
“What you get in the arts is creativity, and creativity spawns innovation. And innovation is what you need in order to be successful in the science, technology, engineering, and math.”
McAuliffe added that the state is adding STEM education to preschool to begin this exposure at an early age—and also pairing female role models, such as astronauts, with schools to inspire more girls.