How can we spark a girl’s passion for STEM?

By Cathi Rodgveller, CEO & Founder of IGNITE Worldwide

Studies show that by age five, girls already think that science and math may not be for them. They receive messages all around telling them, “girls are not as good as boys in these subjects.”

So how can you spark a girl’s passion for STEM in a society that sends the opposite message?

This is the reason I started IGNITE Worldwide and design the program to address this particular issue.

The central theme at any IGNITE event is for girls to hear stories about how women fell in love with a career in STEM. It’s only after hearing these stories will girls be motivated to try it for themselves. I have lost count of the number of girls who’ve experienced that “a-ha moment” at an IGNITE event after hearing from a panel of IGNITE speakers. It not only motivates them, but inspires them to take the path less traveled for women.

When I ask a room full of girls if they know any women who work in a STEM field, a few will say yes. Of those girls, they may know what company the woman works at, or what her job title is, but most girls don’t know what she actually does in her job. Telling girls stories from the perspective of a woman in a STEM career helps girls understand clearly what these jobs are like day to day, and why STEM careers are great choices for women.

To change the representation of women in STEM, we need to share more of these stories with girls, surround them with STEM toys and devices, and encourage them to explore the physical world around them. Doing this will allow girls to see the world through a brand new lens! We all can change the culture if we did this in our homes. Doing things like reading non-fiction books about STEM subjects, performing at-home science projects for fun, or trying out a beginners coding course can secure a girl’s confidence in her technical abilities for the rest of her life.

Girls belong in STEM. They just need to know that other women are out there in it too. Women in STEM careers not only help people, but build better products and a better world.