Science, technology, engineering, math. Together, those four fields make up what’s called the STEM disciplines.
When my daughter turned 12, I signed her up for a STEM summer camp. She came home after day one telling me how much fun she had doing hands-on projects and games. And then she said, “But I’m not going back.” My heart sank. “Why?” I asked. The reply: “Because I was the only girl there.”
I, too was the only woman in the room when I started in the IT field about 30 years ago. As my daughter noted, that hasn’t really changed. Today, I might be one of two (or maybe three) women in a room of IT folks. So, how can we change that?
It starts with STEM education and prioritization. We need to build and unite the STEM community so we can help students understand that STEM careers are lifelong opportunities to learn, innovate, and create. There’s no end to what you can explore in science, technology, engineering, and math. And with some of the highest starting salaries and most in-demand positions, there’s endless opportunities for our citizens to succeed.
Let’s begin by raising awareness of the essential part STEM skills play in our everyday lives. And encouraging our students to think critically and start testing out careers that will create bright futures for them—and our country.
As a mother and a woman in STEM, I feel I have a duty to help young girls and women enter the field. That’s one of the reasons why I joined the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council in 2017. And why I encouraged my daughter to go back to summer camp for day two. She did, stayed the entire summer, and said, “Yes, women should be in STEM too.”