Although women and girls continue to be significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, new Girl Scout research shows that it’s not for lack of interest. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM.
Among other Generation STEM findings is the discovery that African American and Hispanic girls, while they show a high degree of confidence and interest in STEM, and a strong work ethic, have fewer supports, less STEM exposure, and lower academic achievement than do Caucasian girls. When asked how likely they would be to seek support and information on STEM career choices from parents or guardians, 54 percent of African American and 54 percent of Hispanic girls indicate likelihood versus 70 percent of Caucasian girls. These populations are also more aware of gender barriers in STEM fields, with African American and Hispanic girls significantly more likely to agree with the statement “if I went into a career in STEM, I would worry about sexual harassment in the workplace (African American 30%, Hispanic 28%, Caucasian 19%).”
By ensuring that women and girls receive the exposure, encouragement, and support they need to enter and succeed in STEM fields, this country can benefit from the full range and diversity of its talent. To this end, on April 24, 2012, the White House Council on Women and Girls will host a White House event featuring a panel of trailblazing women in STEM fields. These women will share their experiences and encourage girls to follow in their footsteps—or to blaze trails of their own. This event will also showcase the very first public screening of Girls in STEM, a video with footage of girls who participated in the 2012 White House Science Fair, including Girl Scout team the Flying Monkeys, which invented a new type of prosthetic hand to help a little girl write for the first time. (The girls won the $20,000 FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award from the X Prize Foundation in April 2011; they were also granted a provisional patent.)
Also highlighted at the White House event will be a partnership between Girl Scouts of the USA and Mocha Moms, Inc.—a collaboration to provide mentor and adult volunteer support for IMAGINE Your STEM Future and other Girl Scout/STEM programs as part of Mocha Moms’ "Closing the Gap in Minority Health, Prosperity and Achievement" community service initiative. Girl Scouts and Mocha Moms, Inc. are proud to unite in support of STEM programming for girls.
"America has a huge opportunity for economic growth when looking at girls' interest in science, technology, engineering and math," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA. "It is in this country's best interest to make girls feel supported and capable when it comes to involvement in STEM fields—and anything else they set their minds to and have traditionally been steered away from."