Exemplary Practices: Engaging Girls in STEM

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According to the research, what works to engage and support girls in STEM? These publications present new research, or distill existing research, and provide it in user-friendly formats to inform programming, reference in presentations, and cite when writing proposals or seeking other types of program support.

These user-friendly publications present new research or distill existing research on what works to engage and support girls in STEM. They can be used to inform programming, reference in presentations, and cite when writing proposals or seeking other types of program support.

Learning from Young Women: A Multi-Year NCWIT Research Study (2021)
Why do some women persist in computing and others don't? NCWIT's Learning from Young Women study was a longitudinal mixed methods research project that explored this question. This longitudinal study included a large sample of women from around the United States who spanned the pipeline from high school through college through the workforce over a period of six years.

NSF INCLUDES National Network Research Brief: Evidence-based Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Girls and Women in STEM (2021)
This research brief discusses eight evidence-based strategies to attract and retain girls and women in STEM-related academic fields and careers. The brief incorporates intersectional approaches to addressing inequalities specific to the experiences of girls and women of color, and features the perspective of NGCP.

NCWIT’s Bridging the Encouragement Gap in Computing (2019) There is consensus among researchers that encouragement matters and plays a critical role in engaging more young women and girls in computing. This report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) presents key highlights from research studies on engaging young women and girls in computing, including tips on practicing encouragement.

The SciGirls Strategies (2019)
The SciGirls PBS television series, website, and outreach initiatives emphasize current research on strategies proven to increase girls’ engagement in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become SciGirls' foundation. The SciGirls Strategies summarize research-based strategies for engaging girls in STEM, including tips for putting these strategies to practice and references for additional information.

APEC Women in STEM (2017)
The APEC Women in STEM: A Framework for Dialogue, Learning, and Action report is endorsed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. This report provides a framework that organizes challenges and opportunities in engaging girls in STEM across four key issues: enabling environment; education; employment; and entrepreneurship. The report highlights emerging practices in the Asia-Pacific region in all four pillars and makes concrete recommendations on ways that stakeholders can work together to strengthen STEM education and related career pathways for women.

Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women's Success in Engineering and Computing (2015)
This research report, published by AAUW, asks why there are still so few women in the critical fields of engineering and computing -- and explains what we can do to make these fields open to and desirable for all employees. A PowerPoint presentation and fact sheet are also available.

Cascading Influences: Long-Term Impacts of Informal STEM Experiences for Girls (2013)
This report, by Dale McCreedy and Lynn D. Dierking, summarizes National Science Foundation-funded research that investigated whether girls-only, informal STEM experiences have long-term influences on young women's lives. The authors present key findings of the study, barriers to success that were identified, and recommendations for informal STEM educators.

Effective STEM Programs for Adolescent Girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned (2013)
This article, published in Afterschool Matters, describes three successful programs to engage adolescent girls in STEM: Techbridge, Girls Go Techbridge, and Access for Young Women. Effective strategies implemented by the programs include developing collaborations, creating an engaging and relevant curriculum, and inspiring career exploration.

Girls in IT: The Facts (2012)
This report, published by the National Center for Women & Information Technology's K-12 Alliance, summarizes the existing literature on girls' participation in computing, including key barriers to girls' participation and promising practices for addressing these barriers.

Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2010)
This research report, published by AAUW, provides in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers that continue to block women’s participation and progress in STEM. The report also includes up to date statistics on girls' and women's achievement and participation in these areas and offers ideas for practitioners working to engage girls in STEM.

NGCP uses the following criteria to identify high-quality program models and resources. Practitioners are encouraged to use the criteria when reviewing and identifying potential program models and resources to use in their own programs.


Programs and resources should be:

  • Implemented in other geographic areas, communities, and situations.
  • Not dependent on access to a specific local resource such as a science museum, university, corporate headquarters, or geographic feature unless such resources can be widely found in other areas.
  • Provided/shared free or at very low cost. Ideally program information should be available online.
  • Appropriate to scale or replicate to serve increasing numbers of girls. Required tools should not limit scalability.

Programs and resources should include research and evaluation of the effectiveness, or alternately, be based upon established promising practices in informal STEM education for girls.

Evidence of Success

Programs and resources should have documented success/outcomes evidenced by participant, parent and/or staff evaluations and/or program evaluation data.


Though programs and resources designed for boys or all youth are not automatically excluded, programs/resources should have a clear focus on serving or attracting girls and methodology based on promising practices for educating girls in STEM disciplines.

The following webinars present exemplary practices, program models, and resources for engaging girls in STEM. The webinars recordings and slides are available for reviewing. 

Representation Matters! Highlighting the IF/THEN® Collection (May 2021)
Hear about new activities designed to engage youth in conversations about gender equity, representation, and STEM identity in this webinar recording.

From Research to Practice: An Up-to-Date Look at Gender Equity in STEM (March 2021)
In this webinar recording, speakers present up-to-date research on gender equity in STEM and the impact on girls and women learning and working in STEM.

EngineerGirl Ambassadors: Empowering High-Schoolers and Inspiring Young Girls (January 2021)
In this webinar recording, an EngineerGirl ambassador and her sponsor share their experiences with the program.

Gender Equity in Online STEM Learning (September 2020)
This webinar explores what works for girls from preschool and early elementary to middle school and high school, potential adaptations, and new ideas to consider when teaching girls STEM online.

Making STEM Meaningful for Girls (May 2020)
In this webinar recording, learn more about the research and practices that can increase girls' interest in STEM.

The STEM Effect: A collaborative action agenda for understanding the long-term impacts of STEM programs on girls (March 2020)
This webinar discusses creative approaches to better understanding the mid- and long-term impacts of informal STEM programs for girls, and methods for measuring them.

The Challenges and Strategies of Reaching Hard to Reach Girls with STEM Education (April 2019)
In this webinar, learn from girl-serving STEM programs about strategies for reaching girls with additional barriers to STEM education.



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