STEM Messaging

“Difficult, boring, just for boys” may be the messages society sends girls about science and engineering, but with the right experiences, girls can see STEM as fun and inviting.

Here are some ideas for how to combat stereotypes and communicate positive images of STEM professions:
  • Girls want to make a difference in the world.  Talk about the positive impact STEM professionals make.
  • Be dynamic!  Your enthusiasm and passion for your work will make girls excited about STEM.
  • Highlight science and engineering inventions by women.
  • Focus on how you overcame struggles and challenges in school or at work.
  • Give examples of how engineers and scientists are creative problem-solvers.
  • Show how STEM is essential to our health, happiness, and safety.

ACTIONS

Watch Lyn, a Mechanical Engineer, share positive messages about engineering with a group of high-school girls in the video.  Then, answer the questions below.

QUESTIONS

When a girl asks you how you deal with being one of the few female engineers in your college class/workplace, you say: a) It's awful. b) It's a piece of cake. Anyone can do it. c) It's not always easy, but I try to find mentors and other colleagues whom I can go to for advice and support. or d) It's tough. I wouldn't recommend you follow in my footsteps. c) It is not always easy, but... You do not have to be falsely positive about the current status of women and STEM, but at the same time, do not discourage girls. Instead, talk to them about what you do to persevere to overcome obstacles women face. They will be inspired by your strength and determination.

What are the positive aspects about your career? Girls want to hear about the benefits of your career. The benefits may be using your creativity, opportunities to travel, or a great work – life balance (personal, professional, financial, etc.)

Think of a challenge you faced regarding your education or career. How did you overcome it and what did you learn from the experience? It is so important to teach girls the importance of working hard to overcome challenges and that they do not have to immediately excel or succeed at something to be successful. Share with girls how STEM professionals are rarely successful in the first design, experiment, etc.

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