I had the privilege of meeting several #TechSavvy girls at the #AAUW event in Cortland, NY on Saturday. I left with only one thought, “watch out world.”
I asked these young ladies what impact they wanted to have on the world and heard “A big one,” “I want to make a difference,” and “I want to help people.” When asked who inspired them, I heard stories of teachers, families and books. Neither of these is surprising or new. Evidence supports that we are doing a good job encouraging young girls, and promoting STEM fields. Yet, hearing some of the comments these young ladies made you might not think it was 2015. For all the support and encouragement they are receiving from the media, family, teachers and elsewhere they are still being pushed down within the walls of their schools. They told story after story of how boys told them they weren’t as good as them or couldn’t do a job as well as a male.
Comments such as these are not stopping women from enrolling in STEM majors in record numbers, however they are not persisting. What is not happening at our colleges and universities and beyond? Part of the problem may be that while we are telling girls they can be a coder, or an astronaut or anything they want to be, we aren’t telling them what they can do. It was clear to me these girls want to lead the way to a better world. We often ask, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We frequently fail to help girls understand how a STEM degree will enable them to do things they are passionate about, that are meaningful to them. They arrive at the university ready to change the world only to find themselves disillusioned and without a support system or someone to guide the way.
We need to starting thinking about what we can do to maintain the passion, strength and determination these girls exhibited. A simple way to start may be by not stopping at telling girls they can do anything, but helping them understand what that “anything” is and how it will enable them to attain their goals.
What will you do today to have an impact?
A special thank you to @Bali_Maha, @keesav, and @TracyClark08!