Studies show that STEM jobs over the next 10 years will outpace non-STEM jobs significantly; jobs in computer systems design and related services (a field that is dependent on high-level math and problem-solving skills) are growing exponentially. The occupations with the fastest growth in the coming years, such as biomedical engineers, network systems and data communications analyst, and medical scientists, all call for degrees in STEM fields.
Organizations are starting to take a hard look at gender differences in science, technology, engineering, and math in schools to better understand why there are less females in STEM careers than males. Even though girls often outperform boys in many subjects in school, girls continue to lag behind boys when it comes to math and science. In a study conducted by The Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), it was found that a high percentage of 15 year old girls they surveyed lack confidence in their math and science skills, which can result in their underrepresentation in STEM jobs later on as adults.
Results from tests conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that gaps between girls and boys in science and math grow larger over time, with the largest shift taking place between the ages of 9 and 10 years old!
The barriers and biases that girls and women face continue to cause too many of them to disregard technology and other related fields for their careers as they progress into adulthood. As a result, women currently only occupy 17% of jobs in chemical engineering and only 22% of jobs in environmental science; these are just two examples of many STEM careers where men vastly outnumber women. When women second guess their talents in STEM, it is our society that loses out. As the career field of STEM continues to grow at a rapid rate, so does our need for STEM workers.
Meeting the needs of tomorrow means we need to bring more girls into STEM today and we need to start when girls are young. For girls to truly succeed in STEM, they need a support system that consists of adults who believe in their abilities, women in STEM fields to act as mentors and role models for young girls, and other girls who share their interests. Thanks to many strong partnerships with organizations throughout Central Massachusetts, Girls Inc. of Worcester is able to offer fun and engaging STEM programs that meet these needs, helping young girls get excited about science, technology, engineering, and math and helping to build their self-confidence to pursue STEM with enthusiasm.
Girls Inc. of Worcester is closing the gender gap in STEM jobs and providing young women with the opportunity to pursue careers that can lead to full financial independence and self-sufficiency in adulthood.