Closing the Gender Gap in STEM education from early age

5/5 - (2 votes)

While women comprise 48% of the general workforce, they hold just 15% of engineering positions and 26% of computing jobs according to recent reports.  In order to achieve gender balance in technical fields that are increasingly shaping our future, girls must be provided with access to high-quality STEM education at an early age.

Research led by Stanford Professor Jo Boaler shows that a “confidence gap” in abilities can emerge between girls and boys as early as age 5, even when their skills are comparable. This stereotype disproportionately impacts girls, leading many to self-select out of STEM career paths before ever realizing their talents or potential.

The result is what Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code calls our “gender diversity crisis”. Girls receive little exposure to technical skills and fewer opportunities to develop confidence in those abilities at a young age. A study from Microsoft found that giving girls hands-on experience with computer science concepts helps address misperceptions and builds self-efficacy, but few girls receive such opportunities in traditional education models.

Realizing the needs for such equal “confidence-boosting” access to STEM education at early age, KidsEdu works with preschool educators to dismantle stereotypes by providing girls engaging, interactive experiences that make technical subjects personally meaningful during critical years when career perceptions first form and take shape. Other organizations like KidsEdu’s partner Whalesbot are on a similar mission to close the STEM gap through access, by creating pathways for girls into fields where they remain underrepresented.

WhalesBot’s hands-on STEM education robot solutions give girls a chance to learn coding, programming and problem-solving through open-ended play and construction. The Whalesbot simplified programming options show how innovation can be exciting, creative and collaborative. With interactive kits requiring no screen, girls build skills and confidence over time through experimentation in a supportive environment.  With WhalesBot, any girl can experience the joy of designing technologies capable of movement, light shows and more using interactive cards to activate sensors and motors without a computer.

By nurturing skills like logic, resilience and out-of-the-box thinking in communities of practice, play-based robotics education helps address barriers preventing greater gender diversity in STEM. Access to open-ended technical problem-solving skill at an early age provided in pioneering preschool STEM and robotics curriculum  like the KidsEdu STEM curriculum gives girls opportunities to develop passion for STEM subjects by building real-world skills and envisioning their potential over time.

With support from educators and access through organizations working to establish STEM-literate foundations and confidence in students from an early age like KidsEdu and Whalesbot, girls today can achieve anything they imagine tomorrow.

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