The Click-A-Brick team, retailers of building set toys, says they appreciate the various movements afoot to encourage more girls to choose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, but more needs to be done to get more girls to see these careers as a viable option for them.
With movements like the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign and various STEM camps aimed specifically at girls going on across the country, it’s clear there is a concerted effort to get more young females interested in STEM careers, which is a good thing, Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say.
The #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign was started by Platform Engineer Isis Wenger on Twitter in response to critical comments she received when she posed for an ad for her employer. A number of commenters on social media questioned whether she was actually an engineer, with some noting that she looked too attractive to be an engineer. Several female engineers joined the hashtag campaign to show the amount of gender diversity in the engineering field.
Helping to get more girls interested in STEM careers are events like the Broadening Access to Science Education camp for girls at Fairfield University and KC STEM Alliance's Girls App Camp in Kansas City among many other initiatives happening across the country.
And yet, while much is being done to encourage girls to consider STEM careers, KC STEM Alliance director Laura Loyacono says females are actually a shrinking percentage of the computer science workforce. In the United Kingdom, engineering design firm AECOM analyzed school exam results and found that even though girls were outperforming boys in STEM subjects at school, fewer girls than boys were choosing to get into careers in the STEM fields.
“Technical industries such as engineering need to capture the imagination of young people, and girls in particular, to encourage them into technical professions,” AECOM chief executive, Richard Robinson said. “Stereotypes about construction sites are still very much in existence, but the reality is very different.”
Getting more girls interested in STEM needs to start at an early age, Smith and de Gorostiza say, and parents can help by giving their daughters toys like building sets that will stimulate an interest in designing and building things and also help them develop an aptitude for following plans and critical thinking.
“As a parent with daughters myself, I want to make sure they are exposed to things that will cater to a broad range of interests,” Smith said. “There’s no guarantee, obviously, that if a parent gives their daughter a building set that they’ll become an engineer, but the more exposure they’re given to these types of toys, the more likely they’ll develop an interest in the STEM fields. With more opportunities for girls to explore the STEM fields, we’re confident that within the next generation or two, we’ll see the number of female engineers rise dramatically. If we can help that in any way by stimulating girls’ interest in building and design, we think that’s wonderful.”
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