Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Demos Policy Shop: Girls ♥ STEM

"I celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday by attending one of the most inspirational events possible," writes Dr. Jennifer Wheary of the Demos Policy Shop. "It was panel discussion called "Girls Heart STEM" hosted at the New York Academy of Sciences to discuss results from a new study conducted by the Girl Scouts on girls' attitudes and awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)."

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, 74 percent of girls — and even higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic girls — say they’re interested in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, math, and engineering. The trick is to break professions into their component parts. Girls who are interested in STEM want to know how things work. They like solving puzzles and problems. They want to understand the natural world.

Wheary highlights three keys to successfully fostering and supporting girls' interests in STEM:
  • Engagement: Having an orientation to the sciences and/or quantitative disciplines that includes such qualities as awareness, interest and motivation.
  • Capacity: Possessing the acquired knowledge and skills needed to advance to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.
  • Continuity: Institutional and programmatic opportunities, material resources and guidance that support advancement to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.
"What the Girl Scouts report suggests is that we are making great strides on the first and second fronts, and that we have real, meaningful opportunities to bring all efforts to fruition via the third," writes Wheary. Read the full post at Demos Policy Shop.