Ways to Support Your Daughter’s STEM Ambitions

Contributed by Jennifer Dawson

STEM fields are historically male dominated, so it’s heartening news that the percentage of girls interested in STEM has risen to 11%, according to a study by Junior Achievement. Despite this, the actual number of women in STEM careers remains low at just 24%, and this is despite women making up nearly 47% of today's workforce.

A big part of helping women prosper in the STEM field is through nurturing daughters through the educational process. Laying the foundations early will help to create a solid career in the future. To support young women and girls interested in STEM fields, consider carefully what steps they need to flourish. 

Girl with headphones on
Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Helping your daughter to initially become engaged

To the untrained eye, the intricacies of STEM subjects and the work that goes on behind the results they create can be intimidating. Many fields will contain a significant amount of mathematical problem solving, for instance. One of the first steps to ensuring that an interest in science turns into something more concrete is providing the next stepping stone. For your daughter, there’s a few ways to do this.

Firstly, know that all learning technically starts at home. Providing access to smart devices is a great first step, as they provide an instantly accessible ‘end product’ of STEM that can be customized to provide interactive experiences. Many retailers tailor educational apps to specific age groups. Taking it up a notch, there are numerous female-only STEM camps around the country; the Smithsonian run a two-week She Can camp in which girls will be given an opportunity to immerse themselves in basic STEM tasks, such as coding. Together, these opportunities can help you to cement an interest in these subjects.

Aiding your daughter's education at home

If your daughter has a well established interest in STEM, how can you develop her education along those lines? Equipment is arguably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. As you daughter grows, you should continue to provide her with increasingly challenging STEM-related tools, such as the aforementioned activities and smart tech alongside items like LEGO robotics.

However, a big part of the picture is aiding attitudes. The University of Nevada, Reno says that promoting STEM-positive attitudes every day is crucial to a fulfilling education. Encourage your daughter to focus on STEM studies and to try her hand at everything. When specializing, approach problems with a scientific mindset. You should also take a positive view of STEM despite your own background. You can take it to the next level in the home by offering analytical challenges to mix fun with learning, such as challenging your daughter with seemingly mundane questions: Why does popcorn pop? How much paint does it take to paint the living room? And so on.

Helping girls to flourish in the world of STEM is a challenge, but it's one that parents should meet head-on. If your daughter has an interest in how the scientific creations of the world work, help her with equipment and with a positive attitude. That way, you can help the next generation of women make their mark on the world.

Jennifer Dawson is a freelance researcher and writer, who works in co-operation with a range of sites offering help, guidance and knowledge on coping with parenthood in general.